Splash pages: Do you have one? Do you want one?

A splash page is simply an introductory page for your website. This page generally fits into one screenshot (that is, it doesn?t require scrolling), and it typically offers one or two of the following features: graphic or logo, animation or flash movie, choice of how to enter the site (flash/no-flash, etc.), and technical requirements (browser, version, etc.)

Splash pages are especially popular with computer graphic designers as a means of showing off their skills in Flash and other technologies on a single page. The question for the general business website developer is: Do I need a splash page? Before you spend the time building your own splash page, you should contemplate all the pros and the cons.

The Good

  • Splash pages load quickly; information appears in a short amount of time without requiring the user to scroll.
  • Due to the animation factor, splash pages guarantee that your readers view your animation or Flash, at least once.
  • Splash pages are a great means of showing off your best work. In the case of a portfolio, this is especially enticing.
  • Splash pages allow for varied access; your readers are able to choose the site technology that fits their needs. Server logs associated with this allow you to view information for your actual customers.

The bad, and the ugly

  • Some visitors are turned off by a splash page because it serves as a pseudo-barrier to your site. Your readers come to your site to enter it, and a splash page prevents that. In some studies, 25% of visitors left a site right after seeing a splash page.
  • Splash pages limit the ability for search engines to find your site. The Flash animation doesn’t provide the content needed for a search engine to optimize on. Trying to reconcile this problem by adding content to the page in comments may result in penalization for spamdexing.
  • Frequent visitors to your site won’t want to sit through the Flash animation each time. Unless you include a “skip” option, they will have to, and it may deter them from being a returning guest.
  • What sort of impression do you want to leave with your site visitor? Consider the possibility that while the flash movie or fancy animation may look nice, you may be thought of as a bit pretentious or showy.
  • JavaScript coding on splash pages may prevent search engines from adding any pages to the site.

In the end, the question of whether or not to include a splash page is up to the website owner. Consider your audience and the impression you want to leave. Always analyze your web statistics when making changes to your site. Personal opinions of the designer may vary from person to person, but numbers and statistics will guide you to the best choice in the end.