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.
There are several articles about this, including SEO Killed the Splash Screen and Splash Pages and Search Engines.
#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
Newfangled wrote an interesting post about how their splash page caused 25% of users to leave immediately.
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.
The customer is always right.. specially when it’s your father in law :)
I agree with all these points but I have agreed with a client to do the splash page.. and I hate it.. but they want it… now I am trying to figure out a way to show i am not trying to go back on my word
thanks for your article
I think it’s always okay to go back to a client and explain why you want to do something different than what was agreed on prior, as long as you give good explanations for why. If they still want it, well, at least you tried.
Hi, I agree with you too, however I recently met a client (who is a print designer) who just insist on a splash page no matter how hard I tried to convince him with reasons & with research reports.
He often quotes articles from the web supporting the use of splash pages too & call me unknowledgable. In the end I have to gave in & get looked down by him at the same time. He hardly ever trusted my design decisions, given that I’m an IT graduate while he graduated from school as a designer. So naturally he thinks I know nothing about design & feels he need to educate me.
Those websites that write to support splash pages are getting on my nerves sometimes.
Yeah, I come across this with clients lots, too. In fact, I just recently launched a client’s site with a splash page. It’s tough when you’re doing something you know isn’t going to work out too well for them! But the guy was a photographer and wanted his picture up front; not even his site name!
But I’ve also used some of the arguments you’ve presented here and had clients change their minds. And there’s always a second chance when they return in a few months wondering why they don’t show up in search results :)
Thanks for the post.
Virtually no one asks us for splash pages anymore, and if they do the searchability, iphone, and ipad issues changes their mind right away. That said, I have two recent clients who have a case.
One client’s end products are themselves very flashy—gaming, interactive graphics for trade shows, etc. Their competitors all have elaborate mostly annoying intros and sites. One actually was pretty impressive, but I can’t remember their name and it’s in Flash and not coming up on Google so I can’t send the link :) . We’ll pitch them on something more functional and cleaner on the off chance, but we’ll lose because this client wants “sexy” and who knows, that might be right for their business model.
The second is almost the opposite case, an old school interior designer with high end clients. He doesn’t want a flash-type intro, but he does want the home page to have a visual impact that excludes any text or menu. We discussed the trade-offs, but in his case I came to agree. He is already pretty well know and the site is his name, he has lots of potential links to him and a strong facebook presence. We came up with something subtle but effective that stands out against the usual suspects. I will monitor the site though, and if people are not clicking through we will make some changes.
And I was sacked by a client recently for giving my say against a splash page. (The splash page just show his logo for a few seconds with no option to skip before redirecting to the main page)
And what a client it was, being a very good friend of mine in the past. Now–someone who hates me so much.
He would probably never realise how much it could hurt his business as he is quite a reputable print designer and thus is likely to still have a steady stream of business regardless of having a splash page anot.
I felt kind of sad, on the thought that he might never realise it & continue to think that I’m a fool.
Wish he could see your article one day, though with his pride, I guess he will think he is the exception.
I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s good to find out early on that it isn’t a good match, and move onto projects you can fully invest in.
wow tq for the advice,,
[…] 5 Reasons to Kill the Splash Page […]
I have two distinct groups of people who visit my site. Unfortunately I was not clever enough to have two sites in the beginning and now it is too late.
I understand what you say about splash pages, but would like to have a landing page where my clients can choose which way they want to go i.e. which side of the website they would like to visit. Do you have any suggestions?
Maybe like LiveStrong.com: http://www.livestrong.com/
Yep that’s what i need, now for the serious question, how do I do that? Any help would be very much appreciated.
Thanking you in advance
[…] This is a bit like asking someone to stand and watch an advertisement before they can enter your front door. Do you really want to force your website visitors to look at a splash screen first before they can click through to your site? No, if you have a splash screen or some kind of splashy flash intro, get rid of it. Remember that Flash also doesn’t work on most mobile devices, so you are already alienating 25% of your web visitors. You can read more about why splash pages are bad in this article from Devin. […]
Thanks for the suggestions on Splash Page but sometimes clients are stubborn to have a Splash Page on their website and we as web designers have no option left other than to provide them a Splash Page for their website.