Splash pageSplash pages are those entry pages we often come across when surfing our way to a website that (might) have what we are looking for.  Often they are very impressive animations or graphics that certainly warrant a “WOW”.  They typically have the “Enter” link in the middle of the page somewhere. Website owners, and often with the support of web designers, feel that a splash page would create a graphically pleasing introduction to their website.

But are they a good idea considering today’s demand for quick information and short attention spans?

Splash pages can be beneficial in some cases.  For example:

  • Announcing important website-related news, disclaimers, warnings, site requirements and/or language selection
  •  Used for trailers or teasers for things like movies and product advertisement
  • Enticing visitors to provide information before proceeding
  • Showcase creativity in the case of professions such as photography, graphic design and animation
  • Age verification for adult oriented content

We feel that splash pages should be avoided if possible.  They are remnants of the early days of the web. We have maybe 1 or 2 websites that we have developed (unwillingly!) with splash pages.  Those typically are requirement to present a language choice (eg. French or English website).  There are many reasons why splash pages should be avoided.  We’ll share a couple:

Search Engine Obliteration

Splash pages can be a real search engine optimization (SEO) killer. Splash pages are void of any valid content, if any, since they are typically some sort of graphic or animation. Maybe the useless words “Enter” and/or “Exit” may appear. The lack of text, or keywords, on this first page of your website really hurts your search engine rankings.  Don’t think that cheating with meta keywords will help.  Google doesn’t even look at those anymore.

Links are also important in your search engine rankings.  The splash page only has one link, and that’s to your home page.  It is very unlikely that somebody will link back to your splash page when sharing a link.

Many splash pages will redirect a user to the home page after the animation has ended, or after a certain amount of time.  Quality search engines like Google try to deliver users directly to the information they are seeking.  When these search engines see that your base URL (eg. ww.yoursite.com) is redirecting to another page, your ranking will be negatively affected.

Forsaking quality, relevant content on the most important page of your website for a flashy “Enter” page is really hard to justify.

User Frustration

Usability is paramount in web design.  Visitors arrive at your site expecting to enter it, and the splash page is like a road block. Splash pages that contain high quality graphics or animation takes time to load.  In the case of animations, after the loading time, there’s also the playing time.  You better make that “Skip intro” link highly visible. The majority of your website visitors, especially returning visitors, will not wait for your presentation to finish.  They will find another website.  And since you are putting that link there, what are you saying, really? “This page isn’t that important, so you can skip it and get to the actual website”. Why bother?  You’re wasting the visitor’s time.

Users on slower internet connections will suffer.  It’s hard to believe that even today, there are people still on dial-up.  Let’s not forget our mobile device users.  Flash animation is a nightmare for those who do not have Flash installed or use an… iPhone or iPad.  They will get a blank screen telling them they need the Flash players.  But guess, what, Flash player is not available for those devices (yet).  Wow, that’s frustrating!

Here’s what Newfangled Web Developers wrote about their own splash page:

The number one reason for getting rid of our splash page was that it turned away at least 25% of our site visitors, sometimes more. This percentage is has actually been researched and it turns out that at least 25% of site visitors will immediately leave a site as soon as they see a “loading” message for a Flash splash screen (even if there’s a “skip intro” link). Our access logs confirmed this for us and this over all the other reasons caused us to get rid of it. The opportunity to “prove our creativity” was not worth the loss of such a high percentage of visitors.

Read the full Splash is Dead article.

Web users, like yourself, are busy.  They want their web searches to be quick and accurate.  Search engines are not perfect, so anything you can do to help users find what they are looking for on your websites will only help achieve your website goals.

Despite our dislike for splash pages we still think it is important for our clients to understand the pro and cons of splash pages.   It is dependent on how the website is used to achieve the organization’s goals.  We feel with the proper information, the right decision can be made.