Journal: News & Comment

Friday, October 17, 2003
# 8:55:00 AM:

Why splash pages on websites are a bad idea

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It seems silly for me to have to say this, ten years after the World Wide Web started going mainstream, but the home page of every website should be useful. Too often, however, they're not, and a persistent problem remains the splash page.

You know, you come to a site and it shows some whizzy graphic, or an animation, or a lovely sunset-style photo with some background music. The only link says either "Click to Enter Our Site" or "Skip Intro." Here's what Bryan Eisenberg of ClickZ says about that:

Many Web sites have splash pages. Why? "It looks good" or "for branding purposes" are common explanations. Splash pages disorient visitors by offering a look and feel different from the rest of the site. They can kill the mood for visitors who are buying on impulse. They're an obstacle on the way to more relevant content. They're often used incorrectly, asking visitors to choose a path. That's often better handled with proper information architecture.

I still prefer JWZ's rant:

As far as I can tell, the whole point of having an intro page is to sit there and say, "I am so cool. I am so cool that I don't even have to tell you what I do. I am so cool that I can sit here and just burn time while you look at things whoosh around my logo. Isn't my logo great? I hope you like it because I spent a lot of money on it. Me me me, it's all about me. Oh, you wanted to actually get information off of my web site? Maybe see who I am or what I have to say? Maybe buy a product? Oh, ok, if you insist. Just a few more seconds. Ok, there you go. Here's my real top-level page.''

Think about it this way: When you go to the websites you read regularly, do you go to a splash page or something with actual information on it? Would you ever bookmark someone's splash page in your browser, on purpose?

The main problem is that the Web is about links, and splash pages aren't—so they don't, in general, belong on the Web. Not anywhere you want people to come back to, anyway.


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