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Splash Pages: Are They Useful?
Do splash pages offer real value, or should they be avoided?
Sandra




msg:580941
 3:30 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi everybody!

One little question, even not a question but your opinion.

Personaly I have nothing against splash pages if they are well done and fast loading, but recently I had red a lot of threads in forums and articles about not to use splash page. I am working on my husband company's site and wondering about to use or not to use splash page. The site will be in two languages (at the moment, maybe even more than two), so I thought it will be quite logical solution - splash page with two links, visitors can chose immediately which variant to see.

How do you think?

Sandra

 

rewboss




msg:580942
 3:37 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Actually, having a choice of language is one of those occasions when a splash page makes sense.

richlowe




msg:580943
 3:41 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Personally, I dislike spash pages. In this case, I would make the page in whatever langauge was the majority of my visitors, and have a very obvious way to change languages on that (and every) page.

Richard Lowe

rogerd




msg:580944
 3:43 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'd avoid the splash page... it's an annoying extra step for visitors, and you may lose a few who don't click on one of the links. Since splash pages usually have little text content, it's hard to optimize them (unless you are going to cloak). As an alternative, I'd make the home page in the language you expect to be used by the largest number of visitors, and have a prominent link that says "Click for Urdu version" (in the appropriate language, of course).

Nick_W




msg:580945
 3:46 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I agree whole heartedly with richlowe.

Spash pages are evil ;)

Why, after you've gained that important click would you want to allow them to leave without seeing the content?

Users want information and they'll leave if they don't get it immediatly. So I'd go with the language majority and provide a very clear link to the other language.

If there's no clear majority I'd go a step further and build 2 seperate sites and promote them seperately.

Nick

korkus2000




msg:580946
 3:52 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think you could make a splash page and set a cookie when the choice is made. I try to use cookies for splash pages because after the first visit they are irrelevent.

Eric_Jarvis




msg:580947
 4:00 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I'm totaly anti splash pages...at present we use one because we have a logo that doesn't fit with either the site or, more importantly, the image of the organisation...so there is a splash page that has the logo and a few lines of text on the main company domain

I actually use a different domain to push to the search engines and that goes directly to the main index page

at present the translated pages are on a third domain...the current index for that domain is in English...but I am replacing that shortly with a Unicode page that will have a keyword rich sentence in each of the 15 languages along with the name and two letter code for the language

the equivalent for a bilingual page would need to include more text I suppose...but would put you in a convenient position to add more languages later

pat_s




msg:580948
 4:08 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Splash pages don't always have to be splash pages. Sometimes there's no logical main page to the site so a sort of entry page seems like the best solution. In that case, don't overload it with huge graphics and include full navigation on it and it won't be annoying to people. A splash page that just lets you enter the site is mostly worse than useless.

EliteWeb




msg:580949
 4:19 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

When I had a splash page up for one of my site the amount of visiters who actually 'entered' were down as much as 20%. I lost that many people to traffic my site, without someone telling me i removed the splash page :)

BlobFisk




msg:580950
 4:36 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

One possible solution would be to show the splash page to the visitors on their first visit to the site, and then (by means of a simple cookie) on successive visits send them directly to the main content page.

My personal opinion of splash pages is don't use them!

<added>Just noticed that Korkus said exactly the same thing before me.... apologies!</added>

engine




msg:580951
 5:11 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

> it's hard to optimize them
Oh no, even without cloaking it can be done effectively.

Think very carefully about how the splash page will work for you. It's critical to consider the audience and the purpose of the site.

A couple of examples where NOT to use a splash page:
A news site, there is no need for a splash page - visitors want the news (like the front page of a newspaper).
Customer service - that adds unnecessary clicks.

If it's a corporate site, then, fair enough. Branding and "departments" can be easily and clearly defined. It works well with extranets, too.

As suggested by Korkus2000, identify users on a second visit and, if you wish, let them skip through to the site.

DO NOT have a splash page for the sake of it. There are too many examples of bad splash pages that employ unnecessary big Flash files that take an age to download on a standard dial-up, especially when the site is aimed at consumers. Those web designers need to be shot - IMHO.

If you MUST have a big Flash file on a splash page for corporate purposes, or to show off, convince the team to have an option for visitors to skip through to the site.

Always minimise the number of clicks to the departments.

You could also use splash pages in departments or company divisions on the site. Obviously, it depends upon the size of the company.

When you're into languages, then there are some options to consider - choose the most common language (as mentioned previously) as the splash (home) page and immediately give visitors the option to select their language. Make it cookie controlled for re-visits and retain the option to select an alternative language.
Donít make them wait for big downloads to choose a language - that'll be a disappointment for the visitor and ultimately, the traffic will suffer.

Above all, if you decide to have a splash page - make it work for you, and not use it for the sake of it.

Macguru




msg:580952
 5:28 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Hi Sandra,

Welcome to WebmasterWorld!
Please dont miss paynt's welcome message [webmasterworld.com]. She really did a good job at providing new members with excellent ressources.

I live in some place where bilingualism is almost mandatory. (You can tell counting all of my misspellings in this post alone ;) ). The use of splash pages seemed so obvious at first sight, a lot of people used them by mistake.

The main problem with slash pages is that they usually use no text. Big problem here with search engines who expect to find your most relevant keywords on visible ereas of this page...

Some bilingual page looks no good for human visitors too. So you have to make a choice.
I agree with most replies you recieved. Especially with Nick_W answer. The best thing is to make one separate site per language with different domains and to promote them separatly. That is the ideal conditions. ( you can even benefit from it if you know the secret handshake [webmasterworld.com]).

If you must use a splash page, make sure you also have keyword rich text on it.

victor




msg:580953
 7:13 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Here's one reason why it is hard to optimize if you have a splash page.

Most external links (sites linking to your site) will be to the splash page.

Most internal links (that home buttom from all your site's pages) will be to the real/start/main page.

So instead of having one page that captures all that PageRank (in Google's terms), you have voluntarily split it across two pages.

It could be as bad as having two pages that come in the top 50 for a search rather than one that comes in the top 5.

papabaer




msg:580954
 8:02 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I dislike splash pages, I believe in delivering real content up front, without the need for the "extra click." But, there is more than a subtle difference between a "splash page" and an "introduction page."

A simple splash page is just that: a splash of graphic or text combined with some sort of "click here to enter" link. While an introctory page is actually much more.

An introductory page can offer a brief (keyword rich) description of the site in general, it can also offer links to multiple language versions or even a login field for members. For sites with diverse (even opposing) content, an introduction page can even offer helpful navigation links to guide a visitor to the section of primary interest. This can help keep internal navigation schemes simpler.

In appearance an introductory page may not seem much different from a splash page; in function, the two are worlds apart!

[edited by: papabaer at 8:09 pm (utc) on June 11, 2002]

richlowe




msg:580955
 8:07 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

Here's how I see them. Suppose I was standing somewhere and got approached by someone who handed me a piece of paper. He was covered by curtain and required that I Look at the paper and read it before he would talk to me or let me see him.

On the paper was a picture which looked cool. Did that make me want to talk to the person? Possibly, but it also might make me not take the paper in the first place, it might make me run away, and so on. It's not the traditional way to introduce yourself. In fact, it's kind of rude.

So I would say that spash pages are not useful, in fact, they are rude. They tend to alienate people. They certainly don't make me want to talk to them or visit their web site and see what they want to say.

Richard Lowe

Grumpus




msg:580956
 8:26 pm on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

I understand the question, but when it comes right down to it, doesn't every site have a "splash page"? Sure, I assume we're talking about one with a graphic and two links - click here for english and click here for french (or whatever).

In essence, a good splash page is KEY to what you are trying to do. (In my case, I'm having a LOT of trouble trying to figure out what to get RID of on my splash page, rather than what to put on it).

Your splash page should be a either a teaser, a table of contents, or in some way the "HUB" of your entire site. It should describe what people can expect to find and where they can expect to find it. It should encourage them to look more deeply at what you're offering and it should entice them to want to read everything there.

When it comes right down to it, your splash page shouldn't really give much information in the concrete sense at all. It SHOULD have snippets of information (chock full of juicy keywords) with a link to the "full story". It should be a HUB that when someone finishes with a "full story" they can easily get back to it and find another "story".

Take a look at Yahoo! - It's front page is nothing more than a splash page. There's nothing there at all except a BUNCH of places to start. CNN (and any news site, for that matter) does the same thing. You get the first paragraph of the newest/hottest story, the headlines for another few stories in each of the main categories, and then gateways that will take you deeper into what you want to find.

Sure, your "Deep Design" comes into play quite a bit when you're looking at "spidered pages" that might be an entry point from Google or other places where you might get spidered listings, but for Directories like the DMOZ or when you only want to pay for one page to be spidered like INKTOMI, your splash page is not only important, but it is the MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU CAN HAVE ON YOUR WEB SITE.

So, to summarize: I agree with the posts here that "Big Graphic and a -Click Here to Enter-" is a BAD idea and utterly useless. But, your main index NEEDS to be a splash page. Don't go right into the GUTS of your site. Highlight the features and give a map/starting point to get into the guts. In other words - SPLASH that page with everything the person needs, but don't overwhelm them by getting deep and wordy on any one specific aspect of your site. If they want to see all the words and content, they'll be more than happy to click once. If you get too much info on one product or go on a full sceen statement on "Who We Are" the people will get bored or simply give up on clicking the scroll bar.

As far as the language goes, sure, publish it in two languages, but also hard link it into the google or altavista translator for any other language where people might be interested. Those translators don't work perfectly (well, actually, they work rather horribly) but I've gotten more feedback on my site on the positive side stating that the translation is good enough to get the gist of the information. (Plus, though I haven't confirmed this, but I have a suspicion that Google gives some bonus points for linking your homepage into their translator - for whatever reason that might be).

Good Luck and build the best darned splash page ever!

G.

Bluestreak




msg:580957
 1:45 am on Jun 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

I prefer to think of my "splash page" as a movie preview rather than a splash page. It thrills and it chills and keeps em wanting for more! :D

One of the rules I try to follow is to ensure a splash page doesnt take more than a minute to load with a 56k modem, has a "skip intro" link for those who just want to jump right into the site, and for those who have FLASH/javascript disabled, has an alternative graphic logo in place of the movie that you can click on to enter. I believe in the movie experience, so if done right a splash page ca make a positive impact.

One of the things I keep in mind is that most people who visit myself almost nver find it via the "main entrance" That's usually reserved for people I actually give the link to, or if they come in via a directory (like ODP) Works for me, also saves on bandwidth.

So far I havent gotten a complaint yet....

If you're curious you can see my "movie" by checking my profile. Turn up the speakers and make sure you have popcorn :D

Sandra




msg:580958
 7:04 am on Jun 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

Thanks for answers, it was really good reading. I appreciate a lot your help and I will not make splash page, at least in usual meaning of it.

rewboss




msg:580959
 4:21 pm on Jun 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

What Grumpus describes, of course, isn't a splash page, but a common-or-garden home page. By definition, a splash page has little information and few links; it's supposed to be like the cover on a printed catalogue. What Yahoo has on its home page is the top level of its navigational structure, and hence cannot be called a splash page.

weisinator




msg:580960
 8:23 pm on Jun 12, 2002 (gmt 0)

I think it was "web pages that suck.com" that had a "Splash Page" with a message that took about 30 seconds to read, but then it forwarded you to the real "homepage" within 10 seconds with a meta refresh.

The message on the front was funny, describing how even the most professional sites have a useless splash page.

Splash Page = Back-Button Reminder

BlobFisk




msg:580961
 11:52 am on Jun 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

From the PixelSurgeon interview with Jakob Neilson (http://www.pixelsurgeon.com/pages/interview/design/jakobnielsen/index.html [pixelsurgeon.com]) - Neilsons view on Splash Screens:

"They give the first impression that the site cares more about its own image than about solving users' problems...this is a different goal than a magazine cover design, which only has to communicate excitement.

People know that they will be able to operate the magazine's user interface, so a magazine doesn't need to communicate ease of use on its cover. In contrast, one of the biggest contributions of a website to a company's brand reputation is the ability to increase the score for "it's easy to do business with Company X" on the annual customer satisfaction survey."

[edited by: tedster at 2:12 pm (utc) on June 18, 2002]

ergophobe




msg:580962
 6:04 pm on Jun 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

Personally, I usually leave most sites with splash pages before even figuring out what they do. Unless it's the IRS and waiting through the splash screen might keep me out of jail, I just vote with my mouse and leave the site.

Tom

4eyes




msg:580963
 8:54 pm on Jun 18, 2002 (gmt 0)

ditto ergophobe

They fill me with dread for what lies behind.

They also waste my time.

I know whose site it is - I just clicked on a search engine result that told me that - I don't need it repeating thank you.

back button => next site in the SERPS

I may not be typical of all visitors, but I think am typical of a significant number.

Those that think otherwise, try dropping the splash for a while and watch your stats improve.
(unless you are a competitor, in which case keep it going please)

celerityfm




msg:580964
 5:39 pm on Jun 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

Most visitors hit our site through deep links that appear on SERPs or on web-advertisements- the splash page is for someone who'se heard of us and want to find out more about us and types our domain name in by hand- its a simple flash animation with an autoredirect at the end with a big "Skip Introduction" link right below it along with a text only link, which is almost like a different language option IMO :).

We might as well take off the splash page for a month and see what happens though.

tedster




msg:580965
 7:36 pm on Jun 24, 2002 (gmt 0)

So far we've talked about the user experience of splash pages. But how about their effect on search engine position? A lot of links go to the Home Page for the domain (i.e. the splash page in this case) and all that accrued PR has almost no text to accompany it.

That makes the Home Page much harder to rank. So, if a site uses a splash page, I'd imagine they'd need to chase inbound links to internal pages even more than others would.

Of course (thinking as I type) in a Google-style algo, with one link in from the splash home page, all the PR gets passed to one spot. Maybe that first internal page picks up the Search Engine positions.

victor




msg:580966
 8:34 am on Jun 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

tedster:
So far we've talked about the user experience of splash pages. But how about their effect on search engine position?

I suggested back in the early days of this thread (page 1) that having two pages (splash and home) attracting links rather than one is a good way to dilute pagerank.

It is also true in my experience. Sites I've known that remove splash pages gain higher ranks. Of course, they've often applied loads of other SEOs too, so desplashing is only a factor.

mburgess




msg:580967
 12:57 pm on Jun 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Always, first and foremost, think of your audience. Do you really need that extra page before you hit your "home page?" Why have them go through the trouble of that one extra click to get to the page that they wanted to see in the first place. And, what value are you adding to your visitors within the splash page? If all you're providing is a company logo with a "Click here to enter the site" link, then it's pointless to have one. Not to mention the fact that many splash pages are flash intros. If your audience is dialing up on a 56K, are they going to hang around and wait for your splash page to load... then when the page finally loads, having them click on another link?

How does a splash page factor into SEO? In most cases, your home page is the most important page on your site, and very often might be the only page to be indexed by a search engine. As everyone knows, content, site structure and linking are the most important factors within SEO. By implementing a splash page, you're taking away all of the elements needed for SEO (well, unless you're a cloaker). Splash pages are a major stumbling block toward effective SEO.

alexjc




msg:580968
 1:39 pm on Jun 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

I have a rathermore 'elaborate' splash screen that introduces the my topic and how to use the site. It's only shown once to the user, so it doesn't get in the way, and has many SEO benefits too.

I found this really useful when looking up other sites, and some visitors are giving me positive feedback from it.

I guess it all depends how it's done ;)

jk3210




msg:580969
 4:42 pm on Jun 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Splash pages, to me, are one of two things:

1) A commercial touting the web designer's design ability

or

2) Something a site inserts to cover the fact that there's really no other useful content in the site.

They are like those TV channels that show you a commercial about the very show you're currently watching i.e. a commercial for NYPD Blue, when you're currently watching NYPD Blue --what on earth is the purpose?

My main site is extremely graphics intensive with photos of a travel destination. I wouldn't dream of using a splash screen on it, because, what purpose would it serve to force people to watch a commercial about information they would be seeing NOW if it weren't for the commercial they are being forced to watch?

I also think that Flash was a novelty for a while, but now that the banner ad guys have figured out they they can effectively TRAP people with an animation that can't be shut-off, Flash will soon start to be un-installed on many computers --namely mine.

In all the surfing I've done, I can't think of ONE example of a splash screen or Flash animation that either gave me what I was looking for, or introduced me on to something else I found interesting. Not one.

Of course, I hope all my competitors continue to use them...

scareduck




msg:580970
 8:27 pm on Jun 26, 2002 (gmt 0)

Question: Are splash pages necessary?

Rejoinder: Do Yahoo, Google, or MSN think so?

This 40 message thread spans 2 pages: 40 ( [1] 2 > >
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