Splash Pages: Do We Really Need Them?

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Yes, sometimes we do. Should we use them? No, we probably shouldn’t. Splash screen (or splash page) is a front page of a web-site that don’t provide the actual content, but offers visitors some kind of intuition or background information for what the site is about. Designers use splash pages in their portfolios to impress potential clients with eye-candy. Companies tend to make use of them to draw users’ attention to their latest products. And users literally can’t stand them, because splash pages usually take a long time to load and provide (almost) no navigation options — except of “entering the site”.

Depending on designers’ creativity, splash pages use more or less attractive visual elements, sometimes with interactive Flash-movies which sometimes start to play automatically1. Splash pages usually have a very simple structure — mostly just an image with few text lines and links.

The design of these pages sometimes isn’t related to the overall site design. And although most sites don’t use them, splash pages are sometimes necessary and therefore remain popular. In fact, there are some situations in which we might want or might even need to use them. Even although we shouldn’t — for our visitors’ sake.

12 Common Reasons For Using Splash Pages

  1. Splash pages display disclaimers or warnings which are supposed to restrict access to content such as pornography, advertising, or gambling (as is required by law).
  2. It is necessary to draw visitors’ attention to an important message such as approaching deadline, critical update, latest release, news, slogan etc.
  3. Visitors are supposed to select the language they want to use or the country they come from — to direct users to the appropriate version of the site.
  4. Visitors can choose between a low-bandwidth version (HTML — Dial-Up) and high-bandwidth version (Flash — cable, DSL). Sometimes one can also choose the “accessible” version containing only text without images.
  5. The designer informs visitors about site requirements such as used browsers, screen resolution as well as used Flash, Java, Quicktime etc. and suggests to choose the “right” configuration and download plug-ins for “optimal” site presentation.
  6. Visitors can select the preferred view mode – for instance, standard mode and fullscreen mode.
  7. Multiples sites share the same domain. Or a large site tries to communicate its most important sections directly.
  8. Splash page is supposed to include hints for browsing the site and explains the main sections.
  9. Designers use splash page trying to awake excitement for the actual content of the site.
  10. Sound is announced. Visitors are asked to turn on their loudspeakers to enjoy the Flash-show or Midi-experience (yes, apparently Midis are still alive).
  11. Splash pages are used as an additional form of advertising.
  12. The decision to use a splash page is design-driven and realizes some designer’s idea.

How To Lose Your Visitors: Case #1

Users don’t like splash pages, however if designed creatively, splash pages can also really get on users’ nerves. Petr Hrubes has an informative and attractive web-site with an absolutely unusable splash page2 (sorry, Petr). The design of Petr’s splash page offers precise information and is visually appealing, but it has one of the most significant mistakes a splash page can contain — it’s obtrusive and just not user-friendly.

Splashpage Screenshot3
Hrubes.com4: this is not the way a splash page should be designed;
the main page opens in a new tab, in fullscreen mode.

If you are using Firefox or Opera you’ll find out that the mouse click on “Enter” opens the main page in a new tab in your browser. To navigate through the site visitors may want to close the “splash page”-window first and then change to the “main page”-tab. It’s neither necessary nor helpful.

The fans of Internet Explorer (is there anybody out there?) or Safari (Windows) have even more fun. Not only doesn’t the page open in a new tab (although IE7 should be capable of it), both browsers also open a new window which is automatically displayed in the fullscreen mode. Without warning. It doesn’t have to be like this.

How To Lose Your Visitors: Case #2

It can get worse: creative designers tend to offer their visitors problems of a different kind. For instance, sometimes users have to move the mouse among the splash page to recognize what elements can actually be clicked and what should be done to finally get to the content of the page.

Splashpage Screenshot5
Splash Page at FunkyPunky6: can you recognize the linked area?
Hint: take a closer look at the top of the page.

Not every visitor is patient, in most cases the page will be closed right away. Or the visitors land on the Adobe-page where they are asked to download the latest version of Flash plug-in. Or they are directed to some design-award web-site where they can observe dozens of beautifully designed web-sites. You can be sure that they won’t get back. Here you go – an optimal way to lose a visitor in few seconds.

A Showcase Of Splash Pages

Whether minimal, useful, beautifully illustrated, colorful or animated: the design of splash pages is a challenge designers can take to impress their visitors with creative approaches. Whatever decision you make please make sure that you really need a splash page and that it is designed with a purpose in mind.

There are literally millions of them out there. Below we’d like to present an overview of splash pages which are supposed to showcase their basic purposes and common design solutions (mostly non-Flash-based splash pages are presented). These pages make use of the 12 common reasons we’ve listed at the top of this article. Here are some ideas:

Splash Pages As Additional Advertising

Both Apple7 and Zune8 use a hybrid of a splash page with basic navigation functions. What do you think, is it still a splash page? (Bonus: find the difference between both of them!).

Splashpage Screenshot9

Splashpage Screenshot10

Classic: multimedia-related sites offer audio and video on the splash page; however, sometimes basic navigation is also included. Ice Age11 also provides “special” entry points for users from United States and outside the U.S.

Splashpage Screenshot12

Splashpage Screenshot13

Showcase For Important Messages And News

Splashpage Screenshot14

Splashpage Screenshot15

Disclaimer, Warning, Requirements

Splashpage Screenshot16

Splashpage Screenshot17

Splashpage Screenshot18

Splashpage Screenshot19

Splashpage Screenshot20

Splashpage Screenshot21

Splashpage Screenshot22

Splashpage Screenshot23

Showcasing Designer’s Creativity

Splashpage Screenshot24

Splashpage Screenshot25

Splashpage Screenshot26

Splashpage Screenshot27

Splashpage Screenshot28

Splashpage Screenshot29

Splashpage Screenshot30

Choice Of A Language / Site Version

Splashpage Screenshot31

Splashpage Screenshot32

Splashpage Screenshot33

Splashpage Screenshot34

Splashpage Screenshot35

Splashpage Screenshot36

Splashpage Screenshot37

The selection of a language with a Flash-effect.

Splashpage Screenshot38

Splash Pages Explain What The SIte Is About

So much text, so many references, but none of them can be clicked.

Splashpage Screenshot39

An intro explains what the site is about. This is typical for many splash pages.

Splashpage Screenshot40

Splashpage Screenshot41

Minimalistic Solutions

Splashpage Screenshot42

Splashpage Screenshot43

Further Solutions

Flash-based splash page. There is some kind of navigation, however it doesn’t really work.

Splashpage Screenshot44

Two projects share the same domain.

Splashpage Screenshot45

The splash page explains how the page is supposed to be used — here the navigation is possible only with keyboard.

Splashpage Screenshot46

We Have No Idea Why The Splash Page Is Used

Splashpage Screenshot47

Splash page for a weblog? Yes, it’s possible.

Splashpage Screenshot48

Splashpage Screenshot49

Splashpage Screenshot

Splashpage Screenshot50

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://philbrown.bc.ca/
  2. 2 http://www.hrubes.com/
  3. 3 http://www.hrubes.com/
  4. 4 http://www.hrubes.com/
  5. 5 http://www.funkypunky.ru/
  6. 6 http://www.funkypunky.ru/
  7. 7 http://www.apple.com
  8. 8 http://www.zune.net
  9. 9 http://www.apple.com/
  10. 10 http://www.zune.net/
  11. 11 http://www.iceagemovie.com/
  12. 12 http://disney.go.com/disneypictures/ratatouille/
  13. 13 http://www.iceagemovie.com/
  14. 14 http://www.mmparis.com/
  15. 15 http://www.pierremarie.fr/
  16. 16 http://www.theircircularlife.it/
  17. 17 http://www.ondesignestudio.com.ar/
  18. 18 http://www.toygun.com.au/
  19. 19 http://www.handmadeinisa.com/
  20. 20 http://www.im-jac.com/
  21. 21 http://www.zarovka.de/
  22. 22 http://www.biteandsting.com/
  23. 23 http://www.256greys.com/
  24. 24 http://www.non-format.com/
  25. 25 http://www.zipdesign.co.uk/
  26. 26 http://www.lesinvasionsephemeres.com/
  27. 27 http://www.salboma.com/
  28. 28 http://www.jasonchanart.com/gallery.htm
  29. 29 http://www.ayakato.net/
  30. 30 http://www.dirtylipbalm.com/
  31. 31 http://www.aksident.be/
  32. 32 http://www.gloriaquiroga.com/
  33. 33 http://www.atutiplen.es/
  34. 34 http://worldwidedesigners07.free.fr/
  35. 35 http://www.agenciatudo.com.br/
  36. 36 http://www.christianmontenegro.com.ar/
  37. 37 http://www.hail-stone.co.uk/
  38. 38 http://www.conceptio.lv/
  39. 39 http://www.jelizalde.com/
  40. 40 http://www.artnatomia.net/
  41. 41 http://www.ikwordjournalist.be/
  42. 42 http://www.screenvader.com/
  43. 43 http://www.aalex.info/
  44. 44 http://www.mba-multimedia.com/
  45. 45 http://www.benji.hu/
  46. 46 http://www.subraumstudio.com/
  47. 47 http://www.takeshape.it/
  48. 48 http://www.evilgrin.nl/
  49. 49 http://www.startdrawing.org/
  50. 50 http://philbrown.bc.ca/

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Co-Founder and former CEO of Smashing Magazine. Sven is now writing Science Fiction Stories and looking for a publisher ...

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  1. 1

    Hi. Good site.

    0
  2. 52

    :O CREAMPIEEEEEEEE JK nice article

    0
  3. 103

    THIS IS A FUCKING PEICE OF SHIT HOW CAN YOU LIVE WITH YOURSELF WRITING THIS BULLSHIT HUH WELL YOU SHOULD JUST GO CRAWL UNDER A ROCK AND DIE YOU SUN OF A MOTHER FUCKN BITCH I BET YOUR A FUCKIN FAT ASS THAT SITS IN HIS BASEMENT AND JACKS OFF TO ANIME ALL DAY YEAH THATS RIGHT I KNOW YOU LIKE THAT NARUTO SHIT BITCH WELL MY TIME IS UP SO FUCK YOU AGAIN BITCH FUCKER

    -9
  4. 154

    this article is fucking shit, no one cares about this fucking topic. Suck Ma Balls! This is so gay! Dont even comment on this garbage. :)
    8—–>

    -7
  5. 205

    guys what the hell, your gonna get in trouble i think mr deldegan saw it, you guys are so immature, your gonna get in trouble

    -2
  6. 256

    Vera from Bucharest

    January 23, 2009 8:39 pm

    A flash splash page is quite harmful for the number of your visitors, because many are so retards, they haven’t even heard of Flash, let alone to have it on their computers, and when advised by a splash page to install it, they refuse to do so, being afraid of virus.

    I am just an amateour and I try to learn web design in my spare time. My websites don’t look competitive and one of the reasons is because they are not made in flash, so I died for a splash page

    But even after having this conversation mentioned above with one of my potential visitors (who said that she won’t install flash because her pc is already full of worms), I considered adding a flash splashpage to my website.

    Now, after reading this article,, I think that I dropped the splash page idea for good.

    The “best” website with a flash splash page is Limp Bizkit’s. For a strange reason I’ve never been able to enter their site!

    0
  7. 307

    Good article. Posts 53-54 must be the designers of some of those horrible sites like I’mJac. LOL! Yes it is creative, but it stops there.
    Some of those links really show that a great artist isn’t necessarily a great communicator. Those are two VERY different fields, and extremely difficult to master them both.

    0
  8. 358

    Muhammad Usman Arshad

    June 19, 2009 11:04 am

    Very useful article, i am gonna make a Splash Page and this article help me a lot thanks,

    0
  9. 409

    Sometimes it can be useful .. IE: for location selection .. sure I can test by IP addresses or whatever to see where the visitor is coming from, but that doesn’t always mean that they want to be stuck with that location… meaning if user A wants to see data for location A1 but is location B1 .. should they only see location for B1 without the choice for selection?

    0
  10. 460

    i am the 60th person to comment! great article!

    0
  11. 511

    johnsun wrote “(a splash page is) an intro, a greeting, a brief ‘hello’ in a world full of impatience. Like the cover of a book or album. Websites today vomit information all over you.”

    This is absolutely true. It’s funny how the self-professed arbiters of what is and isn’t “right” or “good” so often seem to be unaware that their opinions are driven by *fads*. Sure, in 2000, everyone wanted a splash page. Sure, in 2007, the pendulum had swung back the other direction, and everyone was decrying them. Guess what? -in 2011, it’s entirely possible that they’ll be all the rage again. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    Another point seems to have been lost here: the attention span of those generations that have come of age within the web-era is embarrassingly short. We get uppity about having to wait an additional 0.5 seconds for a (NON-Flash) splash page to load, then having to click one additional time to enter? Oh, the agony! [shakes head]

    But “johnsun” hit it on the head: an _appropriate_ and _well-crafted_ splash page provides the introduction to the content, just like the cover of a book does. Do we bitch and moan about having to turn 10 or 12 pages of a book just to be able to get to the content? Do we whine about having to leaf through 15 pages of ads to get to the first page of content in almost every magazine? Of course not. Let’s face it: when it comes to “give me content/usability immediately!”, we’re utter hypocrites. How many of us would prefer to walk into a stylish, hip clothing store and be greeted with appropriate music, attractive clerks, good lighting, etc., before getting to the clothes? -or would we prefer to step in the door and immediately be confronted by a rack of clothing? No, the atmosphere of a shop and the soft transition from the street are part of the “content”.

    Finally, the fact of the matter is that there is not just one kind of website. There are websites we visit for information (no one would suggest CNN using a splash page), and there are those we visit for pleasure. If you hear a new band, really like their sound and go to visit their website, is a splash page that enables them to communicate their aesthetic to you in a pure and uncluttered way such a bad thing? I actually prefer such introductions to artistic, creative sites. The key is to use splash pages only for appropriate types of sites, to not use media that requires loading (especially not Flash), and to focus on providing a soft transition between the harsh edges of the site one just left and the site one is about to enter. With those provisos in mind, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a well-designed splash page.

    1
    • 562

      I have to disagree with you in particular about your comment that waiting .5 seconds and clicking a button is not a big deal and that people should quite whining about it. You see, web design has to be built for the user. It’s all about usability. Having a splash page is like walking through a mall and being stopped every time you want to enter a store by a person who is trying to tell you about their store. Splash pages might be great if the average person visited three websites a day… but that’s not the case. Web surfing is a fast pace operation. Splash pages are like speed bumps in the middle of a highway… very obtrusive.

      2
  12. 613

    Splash pages – is there anything on the web more annoying?

    0
  13. 664

    Great article but you don’t mention ( or I missed it ) anything about splash Pages being used by marketers simply to obtain your name and email address to ad to thier list so they can bombard you with promotional emails for eternity.

    0
  14. 715

    Very useful article, i am gonna make a Splash Page and this article help me a lot thanks, فساتينفساتين سهرهفساتين سهراتفساتين بناتفساتين اطفالفساتين جديده

    -1
  15. 766

    Great article, thanks!

    The worst splash page I found is from Yacco website:
    – first you wait 10 seconds for it to load
    – then you have to click [skip intro]
    – then you have to choose the language (hey, the browser already tells it)
    – now click again to choose viewmode
    – in the end you have to wait the placing of some pictures
    aargh :-)

    0
  16. 817

    Although I agree with many of the points you bring up about “splash” pages a lead capture page would also be considered a splash page if you were using one main site as a marketer who also has a blog.

    Take for example a site like Sandi Krakoski’s arealchange.com

    when you go there it is a regular index.html page with a special offer for her visitors. What she is giving away is valuable, and is an important part of her marketing funnel. This is how most of her leads for her business are obtained. So from a marketing stand point this is not only a good idea, it’s a necessary idea.

    As an internet marketer you do not want the visitor to visit your site and have a whole bunch of choices to make, you might want an escape link to your blog as in the example above is arealchange.com/blog but being a marketer who does article marketing and video marketing etc, those resources all point to her main page which is arealchange.com/index.html which is the single page that her efforts are focused on promoting.

    Yes there is a ton of great information on hersite.com/blog however MUCH of it is part of a strategy to boost the natural search rankings for the index.html page.

    Google does not like single page sites and most internet marketers are fully aware of the proper use of a squeeze page which done incorrectly is a single page site, it may in fact be a single page site on the SURFACE but if it is not supported by a lot of relative content….it will not rank very high….

    so in this case the need for a splash page is indeed there. I understand what you are saying from a design standpoint however design is not the main objective of most websites, the objective is to sell a product or service or lead generation for an e-mail campaign.
    A site with lots of links or options other than SUBSCRIBE will convert at a much much lower rate.

    Just a thought from an Internet Marketer who KNOWS the value of a splash/squeeze/opt in page as the front end of what can be a rather ‘deep” site with deep linking to the main page that is being promoted.

    Most website designers and graphic designers have not got a clue how to monetize or use SEO properly.

    Scott Manesis

    0
  17. 868

    Hey, I think your uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com site might be having browser compatibility issues. When I look at your website in Chrome, it looks fine but when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Other then that, great blog!

    0
  18. 919

    I love publish review, can make me to produce my experience on my small blog. I hope you get more review, I’ll follow your update. See upon the following.

    0
  19. 970

    I’m a newbie at this, but I think you brought out some good points on splash pages that I wasn’t aware of before. Infact I thought squeeze pages and splash pages were kind of the same. Maybe I can implement some of these points into my website instantsqueezepage.com/?rid= 47273 to improve my site as well. Great blog! Thanks!

    0

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