Monday, January 7, 2013

Why Your Website No Longer Needs a "Splash" Page

Splash pages are those pages that a visitor to your website sees before they actually get TO your website; typically, they  have been Flash and offer some kind of introductory animation.  Some are static image pages that say "Welcome" or "Enter". The visitor needs to click "Skip Intro" or "Enter Site" before actually entering the home page of a website.

While clients continue to request these types of pages, the following are reasons why they should no longer be used:

Search engines will spider your "splash" page instead of your website's real content
Search engines look at the text on a page to determine what the page is about.  If your page is entirely in flash or some other kind of multimedia, search engines won't be able to spider any text on it.  This will result in your page not ranking for the terms you want, and the spidered page having a description next to it in the search results that says "Welcome" or "Enter".

Search engines  may not be able to spider beyond the splash page
If your splash page is done entirely in Flash or with some other kind of multimedia plugin, the search engines might be unable to spider your content, and your content will be absent from search results. 

Most visitors will immediately click "skip intro"
Most people will  admit to immediately clicking "skip intro" before watching the animation they are presented with.  "Newfangled" researched their access logs and had this to say about their findings:

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  message for a Flash splash screen (even if there's a 'skip intro' link). Our access logs confirmed this for us and this over all the other reasons caused us to get rid of it. The opportunity to improve our creativity was not worth the loss of such a high percentage of visitors.

Slower connections will have to wait for the page to load
Even though the majority of users now have some kind of high speed internet connection, there will still be a lag time for loading any animated or Flash presentation. This will be especially annoying to your visitor when he finds that there is no purpose for his wait other than to see a pretty "welcome" animation.

"Click to Enter" is redundant
By visiting your website they've already agreed to enter, why do they have to do it again?  It would be like visiting a business and opening the door that says "Enter", only to find a second door that says "Ha ha. Fooled you. Enter Again."

Minimizing clicks
Your main purpose should be minimizing the number of clicks needed to reach the information or products you have to offer. Having an extra click from a splash page does not align with this idea.

Content from the splash page can work on the home page
In most cases, a splash page can be trimmed down and worked into the homepage of a website.  This is an effective compromise between client and Webmaster, as it retains the graphic idea of the splash page while following best practices for SEO and site navigation. Most splash pages don't have the same primary navigation as the rest of the site; many have no navigation at all. Some splash pages are drastically different in design than the actual website, which confuses visitors who not only do not find persistent navigation, but might believe that they have visited two different websites.

Time to let go of the out-dated idea of a "Splash" page.