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A splash page is an introductory page to a web site that rarely provides useful content, instead featuring eye-candy or Flash animations. Designers may use them to show off artistic skills, and site owners think they attract attention or look cool. But site visitors can’t stand them because they take a long time to load, and usually provide no navigation option other than “Enter the Site.”
Studies show that you have less than 30 seconds to answer the question most visitors have, i.e., “What’s in it for me?” As splash pages often include Flash animations, the visitor may already have hit the back button before the animation starts! Other splash pages may force the visitor to move the mouse around the screen to find a clickable element (one of our competitors used to have a target that moved around the screen—you had to click it to get into the site—IRRITATING). Examples of bad splash pages abound, such as this one from “Web Pages That Suck:”
[youtube width=”600″ height=”362″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuAGpW5Jo14&feature=related[/youtube]
On rare occasions, splash pages can be useful to select the language for multi-lingual sites, or to choose between low and high bandwidth versions. They can be used to draw attention to an important message, although you should be able to accomplish that goal on a well-designed home page.
It all comes down to a simple decision–if there’s no compelling reason for a splash page, don’t add one. We’ve done hundreds of sites, and used a “splash page” twice–once to select the site’s language version, and once for conglomerate to select the desired company division.