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«Return to Blog List Part 5, Why Bad Websites Happen to Good Companies: Having a “Splash” Page

Splash pages represent a fundamental misunderstanding of the online medium. Often, they come from a print perspective (“books should have a cover”), or sometimes from a broadcast perspective (“a show should have an intro”). In user surveys, splash pages consistently rank as one of the most annoying things on the internet, but there are still splash pages out there, and most are attached to company websites (or print designer portfolio websites). A simple Google search reveals the many problems with splash pages, so we won’t address that here.

If the problems with splash pages are well known, why do they still exist, and in fact, continue to show up on new or redesigned sites?

  • Ego, part one: the designer wants to show off his/her creativity or flash/illustration skills.
  • Ego, part deux: the CEO or marketing exec is under the mistaken belief that a “cool” splash page is…um… “cool.”
  • Money: the designer can charge extra for the splash page flash or illustration, and maybe more for the “concept.”

Websites with splash pages are inherently brochure sites (has anyone ever seen a splash page on a website that engages its audience?). The underlying assumption with splash pages is that “the market” wants/needs to see/hear the company’s “big message.” That, my friends, is so “brochure.”

Designers who push splash pages either misunderstand the web medium (perhaps they’re primarily print designers who only design an occasional website and don’t understand the differences?), or they’re making design decisions based on what’s best for them rather than what’s best for their clients.

Clients who insist on splash pages (I’ve had one of those in 9 years) are either uninformed, or they don’t care about their users (“it’s our website, not our customers’ website”). If they still insist on a splash page after you attempt to educate them, take their money if you need to, but realize that you are on the “brochure website” path on that website.

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4 Responses to Part 5, Why Bad Websites Happen to Good Companies: Having a “Splash” Page

  1. Al Newkirk says:

    One major player is UPS (United Parcel Service). They’ve been doing the splash page thing for years.

  2. Ray Gulick says:

    Preston: Thanks for your comment.
    John: Good point. One of the problems with splash pages is that they interfere with expected information architecture.

  3. John Wang says:

    I agree that they need to go. I don’t really understand the concept of making your readers/customers/viewers/etc wait or have to click on a link to get to the real meat of your website. Especially if they just want to get to the contact page to call your support number.

    Recently, I haven’t run into too many Splash pages. They seem more predominant in Movie Studios movies websites and some Photographers portfolio pages. Either way, if you’re going to make a Splash page, make sure that “Skip to Content” link is big and easy to find so people can click on it. Also, make sure that the content page is bookmarkable so people can skip your Splash page on return visits. If they even return. :P

  4. Preston M says:

    I agree completely. I still have many personal clients that request splash pages. Then I have to draw the line in the sand and pull out all the articles on usability and splash page annoyance.

    Down with splash pages they waste our time.