Does this sound familiar? Often you have ideas for websites but not the time to set them up. So you register the domain for future and then leave your webhosts default parking page up there.
The problem with this is that you’re getting no benefit from this parking page. A way around this is to create a launch page. This is essentially a page with some details and an email address capture box. You can also hold competitions with prizes for people referring others to sign up on your site.
There are a few ways to do this.
LaunchRock started this idea (or at least made it mainstream). They provide a hosted launch page that allows you to create a page to collect email addresses, track stats of those signing up and allow people to gain credits for referring others with their link. This helps you build your database and can help build some anticipation if you have some cool prizes.
However this isn’t hosted on your own site, and can be a tiny bit tricky technically depending on your skill level to use your own domain name. However it is a great free solution and pretty quick.
If you want more control and are going to be using WordPress for the website once it’s ready, then you might as well use a WordPress theme. There are some free and paid for options out there.
LaunchPad is a great free WordPress theme. It creates a nicer looking parking page for your site, but the optin email is only done through Feedburner. If you want to use e.g AWeber, then you will need to hack the code to do that. It’s not that difficult to do, and it’s a simple and easy theme to use if you just want to use Feedburner and want to change things yourself. Hover it doesn’t include any social sharing or tracking options
Launch Effect Theme
Launch Effect is another free theme but with a paid-for premium option. It’s worth mentioning that the makers provided me a free copy of Launch Effect Premium so I could review it but that has no effect on my review (nor did they even insist on doing a review).
I’ve set up a demo here so you can see how it works – BulletproofBeer.com. The theme does the same as you would expect but allows to you easily change the options. So you can add your own background (which nicely resizes along with the browser), change the font types, colors, sizes and so on.
You can see on the a href=”http://bulletproofbeer.com/” target=”_blank”>demo I’ve added a Spotify music player but you can easily add a video, images or just have text. The “learn more’ link is optional, the color can be changed easily too, and the sub-pages have a standard sidebar widget area you can use. There are many options making it easy to change the look of the page without any coding – as part of the review I refused to do any coding (as tempting as it always is!) to see how flexible it is.
You can easily add a progress indicator and/or fancy countdown clock. Images have a lightbox photo gallery effect automatically (images appear in the same screen over the top of the page).
Some of these features are premium only, but what’s not is the AWeber, MailChimp and Campaign Monitor integration. As well as adding the email address to WordPress, you can sync it with e.g. an AWeber list and build your email list through there. Which is great!
Also the premium version allows you to have a full designed blog on the site too (with slide down tab at the top to sign up) and coming soon is Paypal integration to more easily allow selling of products on there.
The single site license is only $35 for lifetime updates which is pretty cheap, even if you only use it for a short period of time (which often turns into a long time if you’re anything like me!). The unlimited site version is $65.
In future they’re updating the mobile version and possibly creating it as a plugin to work with any theme rather than taking over your current one.
To me, Launch Effect seems an inexpensive and easy way to get a parking page up there and doing something for you. There are lots of controls and no coding or complex stuff required, you don’t even need a newsletter system, though it integrates with a few, it will still collect email address (and other fields if you have the premium version) right into WordPress.