We’ve had a request for a splash page on a website we’re building. Splash pages were a special web page with an animation or a picture and an “enter” button that would load up quickly and amuse visitors while the actual site loaded over the phone lines —
Yes, we have stepped into our time machine.
I took my first web design class from an elderly teacher who didn’t keep up, and therefore I’ve actually built a splash page as a class assignment, but I’ve never been involved in a real web project with a splash page, so I thought I had better educate myself.
First, the part I already knew: why are splash pages a bad idea?
- They keep people from getting to your content. Adding an extra layer of wrapping to your site doesn’t benefit you, and it can drive away 25% of your users right off the bat — that’s how many studies say will click away without clicking on “enter.”
- They use up your visitors’ patience. Once people enter your site, they’ve already had to click once to get as far as your homepage. Now they have less patience than before. What was two clicks in is now three and so forth.
- They’re bad for search. From the search engines’ point of view, your splash page is your home page. Since it has little to no content, they can’t tell much about your site.
Now, the part I needed to learn about: when is a splash page a good idea?
- When your website includes pornography or other content not appropriate for all viewers. In such a case, you need to warn visitors so they can make an informed decision about entering your website. Not only should children be protected from inappropriate content, but adults might not want to be surprised by such things over their morning coffee or at work.
- When you want to present an ad. If you’re sure that you’re valuable enough that people will continue to your site in spite of an ad, you can put that ad on a splash page and force people to look at it long enough to find the “enter” button.
- When your visitors need to make a choice. If visitors need to choose between two languages or something equally key to their experience, it makes sense for them to get that option before they need to navigate the site.
Now we know.