I have to assume, risky as it might be, that NBC Universal has the scratch to hire professional marketing experts and web designers. Seems to me that being one of the largest multinational entertainment corporations in history would allow them to hire some of the best.
One of the first rules of web design: don’t put up "under construction" banners. If your site isn’t ready for the public, don’t let the public see it. At the very least, don’t actively promote it. That rule, in my mind, is not superceded by putting a countdown on your "under construction" banner in an attempt to generate anticipation.
Now, some would disagree with this, but it’s my modest opinion. Here’s why. Tonight, just a little while ago, I saw a television ad for the "Green is Universal" campaign that NBC Universal is running soon. I thought it looked interesting, and since I had my laptop right in front of me, I went to greenisuniversal.com to learn more about it.
If you followed that link before Sunday (November 4th), this is what you saw – probably with a different timestamp, unless you and I are cosmically attuned or something.
Why is this bad? If I wasn’t blogging about this, if I was one of the millions of people who simply watch TV occasionally, I’d likely forget to go back to that site when it finally went live. There’s nothing exciting about the site itself. There’s nothing screaming "make sure you come back or you’ll regret it!" because it’s damn hard to when you’re limiting yourself to a logo and a counter. I saw the TV ad during an episode of Deal or No Deal (don’t ask) which was on CNBC – not a network I watch with any regularity, so I am not likely to be reminded of the event. I’m not a big television watcher to begin with.
This is a mistake made by people new to web design and marketing. This is not the kind of mistake I’d expect from NBC Universal. The most bizarre thing is that they’re actually spending money on airtime to promote an upcoming event that does not have a support site. Weird.