Bad User Experiences: What does "Soon" mean?

Over the past few months I’ve started to use “Linkedin” more frequently as I’ve started to see and hear more evidence that it’s starting to come into its prime as a business tool.

I booted it up today to add a connection and low and behold (after a few unsuccessful tries to even get the site to load) I get the following message:

LinkedIn will be back soon

LinkedIn is currently making improvements to the site and will return shortly with great new features. If you have any questions, please email us at customer_service@linkedin.com.

We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your patience. Thank you for using LinkedIn!

It’s friendly enough, and I’m sure was intended to give users like me confidence that a bigger and better LinkedIn is on the way. But what terrifies me about it is it gives me absolutely no sense of WHEN. Unfortunately on the web “Soon” is largely used on those “XYZ Company website – Coming SOON!” type pages that seem to never arrive. That message reads “Come back in a few days” not “minutes” to me.

What concerns me even more is the timing of this message – it’s mid-day on the North American East Coast, end of workday in Europe and the start of the workday on the West Coast. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that probably means the vast majority of their user base is online right now.

It’s important as a global organization to remember that in general someone will ALWAYS want access to your site – something we try to really ensure our customers understand. While maintenance has to happen and it’s inevitable that despite best laid plans and timing, someone will always be inconvenienced, it’s good User Experience “karma” to give your users some idea of timing.

I’m sure lots of people are scratching their heads right now when a simple “We are performing maintenance and anticipate being down between 2 & 4pm EST” type message would have prevented any concern.

I’ve sent an email to them asking what “Soon” is – I’ll update if I get a response.

UPDATE: No response but right after I posted I noticed the message had been changed to just be “Linked in will be back Soon” with an apology for the inconvenience but no mention of improvements etc. – someone elese must have read it and thought “Hmm, that doesn’t come across like we thought it would”. As of a few minutes ago the site came back up as well…

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