It's one of my biggest pet peeves, "Our online shop is coming soon!" Only it's not. It's been "Coming Soon" for two years but it's still not here. "Coming soon" in the context of the web and digital publishing means check back later today or possibly tomorrow if we take our time. Not hopefully sometime in the next five years.
If you're one of these offenders, admit it; that's the first step to making a change! We've all been guilty of it at one point or another, and it certainly stems from our general psychology. You have your list of things you'd love to do and your list of things you realistically can do, and rarely (more likely never) do the two meet. (As a side note, you should definitely read my post about managing your To-Do list for good tips on dealing with this problem.)
But back to your "coming soon" pages, let me guess what happened ...
When you built your website, you sat down with your team (or maybe just did it yourself) and came up with your list of features you really wanted along with the corresponding top-level navigation items you wanted to feature. Maybe you knew you wouldn't implement them all right away, or maybe you just underestimated how time consuming content creation can be. Either way, the features didn't get built and you decided to put up that famous "Coming Soon!" text to let people know you were a cutting edge company with a great website that was working hard to bring them the features they really wanted.
Unfortunately, the longer that message sat on your website, the easier it is for your potential customers to see how little you actually pay attention to your website and how long it's just been sitting there without being touched. Now that great feature that was supposed to add value for your customers is harming your brand.
So what's the solution? First, if you're just starting out building a new website, don't include anything that's "Coming Soon." If it's not functional and doesn't add value to your users, DON'T PUT IT ON THERE! Even if you're just putting up a single landing page while you build out the rest of your website, it should be functional in some way without making claims you probably won't live up to - no matter how much you're sitting there right now saying, "Not me!"
If it's a single page, including your logo, address, and contact information adds more value to a user than some text that tells them "We don't have what you need right now, but if you waste your time coming back here every day (pretty please!) maybe we'll get there in a reasonable time frame!"
Better still, spend the time up-front to set up your social media accounts (at the very least a Facebook page) and start a mailing list (MailChimp offers free email services for small lists and is currently our preferred vendor for small business email marketing). Underneath your contact info, include a button to like your Facebook page and a textbox to join your email list. Add some text requesting users follow you to be notified when you have more to show them and in about 20 minutes you're set up to capture leads and start building a mailing list and a social media following you can market to while you're building your website.
What if you already have that section on your website that's been "coming soon" since the website launched? Simple; remove it. Take it down as fast as you can. The truth is that nobody cares whether it really is or isn't coming soon, they only care that it's not there right now. Worse, you're actually drawing their attention to the fact that it's not there, advertising it's "nonexistence" when they otherwise wouldn't have given it a second thought.
If you ever decide to get around to implementing it, great! But only put it up when it's actually complete and ready to add value to your users, which is the key for anything you do on your website. If it doesn't add value to your users in some way, it doesn't belong on your website.