Splash screens and intro pages are a remnant left over from the early days of the web. It’s typically a flash animation or an introduction graphic that users need to skip past in order to view the actual content of the site. They’re becoming extinct because of SEO reasons, but I’d say at least 50% of my clients still request one.
On principle I won’t do it. I’ll politely refuse and give my reasons. And so far I’ve never had a client turn down a proposal down because I wanted their site to rank better in Google, or because I wanted their users to have a better experience . Here’s five reasons to drop the splash page and make the web a better place:
#1. Splash Pages are Bad for Search Engines
Search engines are looking for text content in order to index your site. The more relevant keywords you have, the better chances your site will rank for those terms. So why would you leave the most important page devoid of content? A large graphic may look nice, but without actual text on that page users will have trouble finding it.
#2. Splash Pages are Bad for Usability
Splash pages generally consist of a large graphic or animation that takes several seconds to load. If you have a user with a slow connection, they may not wait that long. This is especially true with mobile users who often run on slower network connections.
Flash animation is especially bad. If your user doesn’t have flash installed on their browser or uses an iPhone, you’ve just wasted an opportunity to show them actual content. They will get a blank page that tells them the flash player is needed.
If you want your pages to be usable by the widest audience, you should make them as lean as possible and avoid using flash. SEO Moz wrote about this in their suggestions for how to convince a client not to use a splash page.
#3. Splash Pages Will Cause Your Users to Bounce
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 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).
#4. Splash Pages are a Waste of Time
When was the last time you were stoked to see a large splash page? Right, never. I’d say 99% of users will simply click past to get to the actual content they were looking for (if they even wait for it to load), which means you’ve potentially lost some users and just slowed down the rest. You’ve also wasted the time of your web designer, who, if they had any grit, wouldn’t have accepted the job in the first place.
#5. You May Think it’s Cool, But It’s Not
I know, it’s like telling someone their baby is ugly, but you have to do it. Smashing Magazine, in their feature of beautiful splash screens even admitted there probably wasn’t a decent reason to have them.