01 Aug 4 Reasons to Avoid Splash Pages
You’ve all seen them: the websites that have the fancy intro video or animation that introduces the business. It’s like having your very own movie trailer! Special effects, cool graphics, music and sound – what a great way to get people interested in your site, right?
We don’t think so. In fact, we feel the era of the splash page (or intro page) has run its course. In fact, splash pages seem to be detrimental on almost every measurable level. Here are just a few:
No text = No indexable content = Bad for SEO
Your home page is the most valuable page on your site in terms of search engine rankings. The text on the home page carries by far the most weight (with rare exceptions) in determining what you’ll rank for. When your home page is a splash animation, you’re not giving search engines anything to read.
In short, if you want people to find you with a Google search, you’re making it significantly more difficult on yourself.
Flash content doesn’t load on mobile devices
Depending on your industry, you might be surprised by how many people visit your site on mobile devices. Mobile traffic to our clients’ sites ranges from about 6% to 39% of total traffic, depending on the client. Below is a screenshot of a website I was attempting to visit from my phone yesterday:
I was trying to get to the company’s website to get the address and phone number. Since the site had a Flash intro, I couldn’t access the site at all on my Android phone. iPhone and iPad users will experience the same issue. If 39% of your visitors are accessing your site on mobile devices, how many of them are you turning away?
It’s an unnecessary delay
Visitors to your site are probably looking for specific information about you – your phone number, a description of your products or services, or maybe new blog content. By forcing them to watch an intro video, you’re preventing them from doing what they came to do.
Each additional step added to a process is one more opportunity to lose people. Our goal when building a website is to get people in and fulfilling a Call To Action (“buy something,” “sign up,” “contact us,” etc.) as quickly as possible. Anything that doesn’t directly benefit that objective should be cut from the process.
Visitors don’t like them
Sometimes it’s best to just ask users what they think. One survey found that 80% of 579 consumers hated Flash intros. Another company studied the impact on site traffic and found that 25% of people left immediately when they saw a Flash intro. The graphic below shows the results of another poll, which asks, “Do you like Flash splash screens on web sites?”
Only 13% of those surveyed responded positively. Overwhelmingly, in every study we’ve seen, people are adamantly opposed to them. Here are the quotes and comments we’ve seen in these surveys:
- “I wonder how many splash screens have been created so that a designer can show how good they are and not because it’s the best way to put a client’s message across.”
- “Flash sucks. If I want a movie, I’ll go to the theater. I just want quick information”
- “Flash should be banned from the face of the earth – such a pain.”
- “It’s like putting a mime in front of the supermarket, and, as each customer tries to enter, he does a little show that lasts two minutes, welcoming them to the supermarket and trying to explain the bread is on aisle six and milk is on sale today. There’s a reason supermarkets don’t do that…”
So… What Now?
I understand the appeal of the splash animation in some industries – particularly those that are highly creative or visual. However, there are ways to accomplish similar things without the massive trade-offs described above:
- Animation in the header region of the home page, built using HTML5 or jQuery rather than Flash. These technologies are supported by mobile devices. You can see a great example in this WordPress theme.
- Allow visitors to choose to view an intro video about you by placing the video with the rest of your home page content. This Kansas City Charity includes multiple videos on their home page, but allows users to choose to play them, thereby avoiding making visitors angry.
We make decisions based on data. The data indicates that Flash intros are not in a site’s best interests for generating business. If you still feel the Flash intro is necessary, just be sure you understand the trade-offs that come with it.