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opinions on intro pages
are there any advantages?
Maylin

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 11:50 pm on May 11, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm redesigning a site that had an intro page. During the redesign I took down the intro page and replaced it with the main site page. The client says he liked the intro because the page had keywords and tags to help the site in the search engines.

Personally, I don't like intro pages. It's just more clicks to the info I really want to see. Currently, this site has PR3 and is on the 4th page when I do a search in google. I don't think the keywords have a lot of competition and we are more relevant than most of the ones listed above us. What I would like to do is take down the intro page, keep the index page updated regularly with news and site information, and add more content to the inner pages.

Before I bring this up with the client, I just wanted to see if there was anyone who LIKES intro pages. I'm not just talking about slow loading flash animation intros, but what about a logo and "enter here" with a brief paragraph describing the site? And how much of a difference will this make in search engines?

 

karmov

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 12:19 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

If it's strictly an intro page with only one option to click, I'd say ditch it. It would be worth more to start at the home page and see what you can SEO there to bump them up.

That being said, I know that here in Canada, many intro pages are there to guide you into the site in French or English. It seems to work well and I don't mind them from a usability standpoint since they offer a clear and concise choice for a very important option.

This is strictly my opinion and you should take it with a grain of salt. In the end, you have to sell the pros/cons to the client and they are paying the bills... :) Best of luck!

PatrickDeese

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 12:23 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

You should be interested in bringing your clients to the information they want as quickly as possible.

You will probably end up ranking a lot better without an intro / splash page.

danieljean

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 12:42 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Splash pages must die.

You will get better placement for your keywords by following the usual routine: use them on the index page, and get people to link using those words. Not all PR is passed on from the splash page, and it has zero information value for surfers... the only people that like splash are marketing weanies that don't understand the web.

[rant]
karmov- I am in Canada too, and I absolutely hate that "feature". Every time we go to a webpage, we send our locale. It boggles my mind that we still have stupid splash pages to let users choose something they've already indicated.

The federal government is probably the worst offender. Go to a random department, choose your language. Follow a link to another department, and lo! they ask you again!

IRL, you go to a counter, start speaking in whatever language you want/can speak in, and they won't blankly stare at you and say "Hello, bonjour, how can I help you, comment puis-je vous aider?" Rather than a courtesy, this is actually an insult- paying attention to your preference is less important than showing how (bilingually/) politically correct they are.

The feds do one thing right: the other official language is usually on the top left. Using locale would be sufficient for most visitors, and those that want the other language can switch it... Don't get me wrong, I like bilingualism, but the current situation is just stupid (I'm fluently bilingual, and graduated from high school in French, I'm not just a reactionary unilingual saying this!).

Sigh, can you tell this is a pet peeve?

Canadian webmasters unite, you have nothing to lose but ugly splash pages! :)
[/rant]

Ok, to sum it up: there's no good use for splash pages, they're inherently evil, and they must die!

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 12:58 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

danieljean: while the splash page thing rears rampant everywhere, some of us enter a cautionary note. For the "art" sites I sometimes do for creative friends, an intro page is the right thing. They don't care about search-engine rankings, etc. They care about a "look" for their sites beginning with a page that eases the visitor into the experience.

To quote one of my favorite writers: "There is no ONE TRUE way...."

danieljean

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 1:16 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

vkaryl- a very good point. Art sites are definitely the type of site where you can assume most people are going there for the aesthetic experience. Especially if people can skip the splash (important for return visitors), that seems very appropriate.

Come on, anyone else want to poke holes into my theory that all splash pages are evil and must die? :)

normaldude

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 1:47 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

In most cases, splash pages are very unprofessional. Just look at the top tier successful sites like Amazon, Ebay, Yahoo, Google, Dell, Expedia, etc. None use splash pages. Just get the visitor to the relevant content ASAP.

However, there are some exceptions. Splash pages might make sense for a movie website, or if a website needs the visitor to first choose a language interface.

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 1:56 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Again we must contrast "unprofessional sales sites" with sites which have another focus entirely....

The whole world does NOT live and die by marketing/SERPs. There's a thread in another forum here which likens some of the posts on WebmasterWorld to "quasi-religious" attitudinalizing. About the only place I've ever run across anything herein which approximates religious fervor is among those of you (generalizing here, mind you, NOT pointing fingers at present company!) who think the be-all and end-all of life on the net is contained within the SERPs.

Take a DEEP breath, folks. Put your heads between your knees. SERPs are a pretty minor thing, the world at large considered....

[danieljean: I long ago learned to provide at least two exits for every entrance....]

Maylin

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 2:46 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

So far the potential advantages are:

1. To select a language for a largely bilingual audience
2. An aesthetic intro for an artsy site

I agree, I can see how in those cases a splash page could be suitable for the site. I have also seen businesses that offer two distinct services use intro pages, and the user clicks which service to go to. Each service has its own area with info about just that service in the menus. As long as there was a way for the users to know the other service was offered too if they didn't come in through the intro page, could the use of an intro be justified?

Maylin

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 3:32 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

By the way, I'm not sure if I really clarified this in my original post.. I'm mostly referring to "introduction pages" with text and not flash or pages that only have a graphic. I would STILL have keywords on this page and it would say "our company does so and so and provides customers with such and such and this website includes this and that". However, it would not have the menu and full navigation system and it would always look the same.

Couldn't I do the same thing, but just put this information on the index or an about page with the full navigation? This isn't an ecommerce site, but we do have merchandise and affiliates and it's also important to me that the site does well because I get referrals through them. So it does matter to me how well we do in search engines.

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 3:55 am on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

During the redesign I took down the intro page and replaced it with the main site page. The client says he liked the intro because the page had keywords and tags to help the site in the search engines.

It's hard to know what you're talking about by "main site page." While you definitely don't want to go the splash page route, I would also avoid the super-busy unfocussed type home page that I see on many sites... you know, one of those pages with super-small type that tries to link to everything.

The meta tags aren't why the home page ranked. It might have ranked, though, because it was short and had focussed content that related to a focussed title, and maybe had some good inbound links. You don't want to replace this with something that's too difuse.

As a compromise, I'd recommend something that has, say, 125-200 words of text, though even 75 words might do, with enough navigation to get you to the main destinations on the site.

karmov

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 12:26 pm on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

danieljean, when I wrote that I was thinking more along the lines of some of the major e-comm sites rather than government. I am also taking it from a usability standpoint. I'm bilingual so this doesn't affect me so much in these specific instances. However frequently I go elsewhere on the web and find a web page that is in a language I don't understand and need to fish around to try and figure out how I go to the english version of the page. There are all sorts of caveats like flags, etc... But in the end it is a usability barrier. Having the splash page to clearly ask you to make a language choice is a reasonable thing to do from a usability standpoint (not talking SEO here or having the site ask you what language 5 different time like Government sites).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not a fan of splash pages and have already encouraged Maylin to get rid of theirs. I was just pointing out situations where they can serve a real purpose. I understand your pet peeve though and I wish you well in seeking the destruction of all splash pages :)

encyclo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 1:45 pm on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

The federal government is probably the worst offender. Go to a random department, choose your language. Follow a link to another department, and lo! they ask you again!

Just to add that you mustn't blame the web designers of the federal government sites - using a select language splash page is mandatory in the common look-and-feel guidelines for federal sites.

As for other sites, there is simply no excuse, even if you have a bilingual site. I asked about this in the PHP forum only yesterday, and Timotheos came up with some excellent language detection code:

[webmasterworld.com...]

With regards to "traditional" splash pages - look at it this way. Wander down to your local shopping mall. Look at the shop fronts. All of them without exception advertize their wares in the window. That is your home page. Imagine, then, if a store decided to show their storefront as a blank wall with a logo. You step inside, and you are required to sit down and wait to watch a short movie about how wonderful the store is and what their mission statement is. Only then, the door to the store will be unlocked and you are allowed to go inside and see what they actually sell. How many customers do you think will just back out of store and go somewhere else?

There is one type of store, however, which tends to hide their wares, and that is a sex-shop. If you're in that business, the rules are often a bit different.

Back to the online world, the only place where a splash page is necessary is on a porn site. Or a Canadian federal government site ;) No exceptions.

danieljean

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 3:19 pm on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

For the feds, you are quite right to say it's due to the CLF guidelines, not designers. Which doesn't make it any less infuriating- the CLF guidelines enforce a stupid bilingualism.

Actually, rather than just ranting about it here, I'm going to email my MP. Not that I expect stellar results, but hey...

photon

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 4:56 pm on May 12, 2004 (gmt 0)

Excellent analogy, encyclo! I'm going to use that next time that certain someone in my department starts pushing flash intros again.

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 2:21 am on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

Back to the online world, the only place where a splash page is necessary is on a porn site. Or a Canadian federal government site ;) No exceptions.

encyclo, we'll have to agree to differ on this. I don't DO porn, nor do I do sites for purveyors of that age-old commodity. But I DO use splash pages when setting the ambience for an artist's site. You might choose to deliver the kiss of death for that, but then again, you're only ONE person, and while you are certainly entitled to your opinion, so am I and those for whom I design.

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 4:03 am on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

encyclo - I love your storefront analogy. I dislike splash pages a lot, basically because they waste my time, since I go to most web sites for information, not for dancing logos.

On the other hand, on an artist's site, I can see that the splash page might be considered part of the content... as long as the visitor isn't a captive audience.

I've struggling with how to handle the potential redesign of a business site that's not only been built all in Flash, but also in two languages. I definitely didn't want a splash page, which is what they have now. The language sniffer, which I hadn't known about, makes it a lot easier.

I'm thinking that the default for the search engines should be English, with a language sniffer doing a redirect where appropriate, and that Flash should be a user option from each language's homepage.

DaveLite

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 6:26 am on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)


No intro page.

When I surf, I surf for information and I want it now

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 11:26 pm on May 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

On the other hand, on an artist's site, I can see that the splash page might be considered part of the content... as long as the visitor isn't a captive audience.

Yes. Exactly. It might be that some of us are on a different "wavelength" here: by "intro" page, I am NEVER meaning anything with movement of ANY sort. I detest flash and animations. The artists for whom I've designed sites feel even more violently about that than do I, if that's possible.

I'm simply meaning a piece of the artist's work, used to "lead gently" into the site itself. The whole of the page is generally one link. Click anywhere and enter....

encyclo

WebmasterWorld Senior Member encyclo us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 12:01 am on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

vkaryl - all rules are made to be broken, and web sites for artists, rock stars, poets, and weird marketing campaigns usually need to break the rules to get noticed. I had skimmed your post, but I respect that you might want to do a splash page in the particular situation you mention. But on any site that has to be in any way financially accountable, splash pages are still all bad.

Of course, personally I'd still hit the back button, but I do that on all flash sites anyway ;)

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 12:22 am on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

.... but I do that on all flash sites anyway ;)

Ah. Yup. Me too. I don't DO flash.... and I won't have it DONE TO ME either! *laughing*

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 12:32 am on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm simply meaning a piece of the artist's work, used to "lead gently" into the site itself. The whole of the page is generally one link.

We're in sync about no obligatory Flash (unless the site is in itself a Flash game, or whatever... I've seen some great stuff).

Now, just to play devil's advocate, let me go one step further.... With an artist's work or graphic logo predominating, why is it so hard for most designers to incorporate, say, 75-125 words of text, and some footer text links?

This is not an insoluable design problem. Even with the relatively meagre font support on the web, it's not an insoluable design problem. A strong central graphic... a discrete block of, say, 9 or 10px Verdana... muted colors... and some CSS controlled footer links, and there you have all the elements you need for a well-optimized page. If the designer can't handle that, maybe the designer isn't up to the challenges of the web.

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 2:52 am on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

I'm a WRITER. I don't have a problem with that at all. The ARTIST is usually the one who has the problem....

Words are NOT a medium-of-comfort for an artist in other perhaps more tactile media - those for instance which don't depend on a discontinuous imagination. Reactions range from a distinctily uncomfortable "well, you really can't EXPLAIN what I'm trying to SHOW in mere WORDS...." (um. Yes. Direct quote there....) to "YOU WANT TO DO WHAT? You can't just WRITE what I DO, you silly ****!" (Um. Yup - direct quote there too.... Good thing I'm fairly phlegmatic under most circs....)

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 7:35 am on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Keep in mind that I was playing devil's advocate. I have artist friends who have similar problems with words.

In truth, I've never been able to figure out how you'd target an artist's site. I mean, what would you say that anyone might search for... something like: "highly abstracted, yet definitely representational watercolors that remind one of a cross between Cezanne and Monet"? Optimization and text on this type of site, except for the artist's name, might in fact be pointless.

But I was thinking more of graphic design companies etc, that want to be found for nitty-gritty phrases like "graphic design cityname" but would rather resort to hidden text than solve this problem of verbal representation. And yes, you're right... it's probably more a writing problem than a design problem.

I think there may be an element of coolness too. Think the Beatle's white album, the Nike logo, or a company name like "Oracle" (as opposed to "Oracle Software Inc"). This kind of branding works if you're already known.

cfx211

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 5:19 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Happy to report here that I work on for a site that will whose annual sales are in the 9 figures (USD) and we employ a splash page. It is a necessity for our site because the subject we cover has two very distinct paths that has different users and we need to separate them at the point of entry.

A lot of sites are unique and you need to build what works for you. Keep in mind you are trying to achieve a goal with a site, not enfore doctrine.

vkaryl

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 10:53 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

Keep in mind you are trying to achieve a goal with a site, not enfore doctrine.

VERY good point. Very "pointed" reminder, in fact....

[edited by: vkaryl at 1:00 am (utc) on May 15, 2004]

danieljean

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 11:13 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

It is a necessity for our site because the subject we cover has two very distinct paths that has different users and we need to separate them at the point of entry.

I worked for a client that had a similar situation, mainly because they were too cheap to have two different domains.

If the businesses are that distinct, why not have two sites?

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 5475 posted 11:23 pm on May 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

If the businesses are that distinct, why not have two sites?

Depends on how distinct. In some cases, Google appears not to like related sites that are in roughly the same field. I'm still sorting out roughly what the trigger factors are.

And considering the effort to get inbound links, one large site might also be more efficient.

But your point is well taken. Two sites often makes more sense than losing everybody up front, and Google tells us to build sites for users.

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