Dunk Your Splash Page

Beth Johnson

I think it's time we revisit an outdated practice—the dreaded splash page. You know, that Flash introduction page that displays before you can actually enter the site.

You probably remember these popping up on websites years ago by companies wanting to show off their design creds. Then people started talking about how annoying they were. Well, they've vanished from a lot of sites, and for good reason—they're a real killer for user experience. But they've been popping up here and there, lately, and they put a real damper on an experience with a site.

I recently clicked on a banner for a book I thought looked interesting. I was directed to this site. Before entering the site, a Flash introduction page played in a rotating loop.

This is a lengthy process just to get to a website’s home page.

  1. I navigate to website
  2. Splash page loads
  3. I acknowledge that I'm not looking for this content
  4. I look for “skip intro” button
  5. I click “skip intro” button
  6. I navigate to relevant content

But, by step six, I was no longer interested. Why would I want to watch some swirling graphics with no words that tell me nothing about:

  • The product
  • The company
  • What kind of information I can expect

If the site gives the user the option to skip the intro, then he or she most certainly will take that option (if the button is obvious enough). What value does the splash page have site designers know ahead of time that they will most likely not be interested in seeing it? The user came to the website to find information, and the splash page acts as a barrier to that content.

It's instances like this when the following questions need to be asked:

  • How is the site presenting the information to the user?
  • Is the content valuable to the user?

With Flash splash pages, you can pretty much guarantee the answer to question #2 is a no. Still. After all this time.