Web design tips: The pros and cons of splash pages

Splash pages are often thought of as ‘pretty little additions’ to a website, but not thought of more than that. One should look closer, however, and truly examine the benefits or deficits of splash pages, before just throwing one on a website.

Why does one need to think closely about this? Many new webmasters don’t realize how big of an impact a splash page can have on an entire website. This impact can be good or bad, depending solely on how, and why, a designer uses a splash page.


What is a Splash Page?

Most webmasters probably know this already, but we’ll go over it for the sake of clarity. A splash page is an introduction to your website. It is a page that does not completely mimic a website’s internal design, but rather displays some sort of other content, and then tells the visitor to enter.

It could be a graphic or logo, website requirements, introductory text, animation, or a mixture of these. Some designers see it as a port to show of their design skills, and others see other benefits that will improve usability to their website. Either way, it’s important to review the pros and cons of splash pages used in web design.

Pros

  • Splash pages are a great opportunity to showcase any recent or special works in a portfolio, or to showcase design or flash skills in general.
  • A splash page can allow your visitor to choose a technology option that best fits their situation. For example, a Flash or HTML version of a website.
  • In a larger website or a network of websites, a splash page could be a useful navigation tool. For example, one website should not hold a personal blog, shop, professional portfolio and forum. A splash page could be used to separate the links, and lead the visitor to specified mini-sites.
  • Any important news, updates, or site requirements can be addressed before a visitor enters the actual website.

Cons

  • Splash pages are terrible for SEO. Because there is a simplified version of navigation on a splash page, if a form of central navigation at all, search engine algorithms have a tougher time crawling a website.
  • Website users like to get to the point fast. Studies show that about 1/4 of visitors will leave a website if they see a splash page, before ever getting to the real website.
  • Flash splash pages can get too long, and lose visitor interest–no matter how fancy the flash video is.
  • If a splash page is not truly needed and provides absolutely no benefit, a visitor may become confused and not realize it’s just a splash page.

Should You Use a Splash Page?

By taking the above pros and cons into consideration, it’s up to each webmaster to choose whether they want a splah page or not. Splash pages should never be used for websites that don’t really need them, so make sure you have a purpose for the spash page that can benefit you.

Portfolios can get away with using splash pages perfectly. It can showcase skills in animation, flash, and graphics, and inform visitors of requirements for high-resolution images and other works.

A website that focuses on content, however, should not use a splash page. When a visitor is coming by a site like this, they want information fast. Website’s like this are usually more user friendly and feature designs with greater usability. There is no need to mention the site requirements, or showcase any graphic.

What do you think?

Do you use a splash page? Does it offer a true benefit to your website?

Written By Kayla

Kayla Knight is a 20 year old college student, part-time web developer, freelancer, and blogger. Webitect is where she spends too much of her freetime, sharing interesting finds and valuable resources. Be sure to check out her portfolio.

2 Comments

  1. clairessa

    May 20th, 2009 at 08:53 pm

    i liked this article. it was very informative. ive always felt conflicted about splash pages. this article makes perfect sense :)

  2. gail

    May 24th, 2009 at 05:45 am

    hmm, for me. I don’t want to put splash page. :) thanks for this though. Nice post!