From time to time, clients ask me if I’d include a “splash page” for their web site. In every situation, I try very hard to convince them not to do this.
I just had a client ask me about having a “start page link to the home page” (in other words, a splash page), and here’s my response…
Start page link to home page: bad idea. “Splash pages” as they are called are a big usability no-no. Sure, they give executives that warm fuzzy feeling, and design firms think they are cool because they show off some eye candy design skills… but in reality they are wastes of money that bring no benefit to the people you are supposed to target your web site for: your customers and prospective customers.
Don’t believe me? From http://www.useit.com/alertbox/990530_comments.html …
Mike Garrison (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
I think that splash pages may not be one of the top-10 web mistakes, but they are probably the top useless web fashion of the past year or two.Why?
- No one wants to have to access it every time, so getting to it really annoys anyone who is not a first time user.
- But for the first time user, it adds a useless step between them and whatever brought them to the site in the first place. So it really annoys them too.
- Most new users will come via a search engine anyway, so they’ll probably miss the splash page.
- If you make it the default highest page in the server (eg. http://www.useit.com/ ) then when people try to find your home page by chopping off a URL, they get the useless splash page instead.
- They ruin the back button. (Your #1 new mistake.)
I especially hate it when a page I have bookmarked (say: //blah.com/ ) gets moved to some URL like //blah.com/content and my bookmark suddenly starts taking me to a splash page. Then I have to edit my bookmark so that it will take me to the real home page.
Jakob’s reply: I agree: splash pages are useless and annoying. In general, every time you see a splash page, the reaction is “oh no, here comes a site that will be slow and difficult to use and that doesn’t respect my time.”
Splash pages are a sure sign of bad Web design.
Usability Guide: splash page
or splash screen; a website homepage that is used for emotional impact and has very little navigation or information. Instead, it typically just displays a large and stunning graphic or a simple typographic message to intrigue the viewer and lure them into the website.
In practice, it’s rarely a good idea, since it wastes precious download time for the user, it obscures by not including critical information about the website, and it delays the time that a person actually enters and starts using the website, increasing the probability that you’ve exceeded the user’s patience or attention span and they’ve left for another site before they even figured out what yours was. Splash pages open up numerous opportunities for poor design such that users can’t find their way into a website.
Frequent problems include:
- not including clear navigation or a clear means of entering into the website – many users will not discover that they can click on the image to enter if the image doesn’t clearly say so.
- providing no clear options to users who do not load images.
- requiring the use of plug-ins or browser features that are not backward-compatible, so that many users are excluded because of the capabilities of their machines or the type of browser they’ve chosen to use.
Still not convinced? Do a we search for splash page usability.