Grand entrance: the value of using splash pages for your website

Grand entrance: the value of using splash pages for your website
Photo: Free-Photos, Pixabay

Corporate keynotes are usually a bore. Sure, you might regularly get caught up in the hype for the latest iPhone or whatever but for the most part, sitting while the CEO shows off their latest products and its features with a slide presentation eventually gets old. Unless of course you’re an Alibaba employee watching the executive chairman Jack Ma in a Michael Jackson costume dancing on stage for a crowd of 40,000 employees.

Seriously, do you know any other CEO of a multi billion dollar company kicking off an event by sitting on a motorcycle up on stage and dancing to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean in a full-blown costume? That man certainly knows how to make an entrance and that’s a philosophy we could always use in the world of web development. If you’ve never thought of using splash pages to spice up your website, now is a good time to reconsider.

Making a great first impression

You might’ve never heard of the phrase ‘splash pages’ before but if you’ve ever played a video game, then you’ve actually seen them in practice. In video games, they’re referred to as ‘splash screens’, which are those screens you often see featuring the logo of the company that made the game or console. This is generally before the game actually starts. For most of the time, the splash screen is used for nothing more than to remind you of the company behind the game. However, there are more clever applications of splash screens.

The now-defunct LucasArts, the video game division of George Lucas’ film company Lucasfilm, has a history of playfully adding things to their splash screen in connection to the game you’re playing. In the intro to Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, the affectionately named ‘gold guy’ in the LucasArts logo throws a lightsaber and does some Force-related things in order to complete the rest of the logo. Likewise, in the WWII flight-combat game Secret Weapons of Normandy, a gold figurine is displayed ducking to avoid an approaching dogfight.

It might seem irrelevant when compared to the actual video game but it is actually these cute little details that forever endeared the company even after they’ve been defunct for 6 years now. Well, that and the fact that I grew up playing their graphic adventure video games but potato, potahto. Anyway, aside from their use in video games, splash screens are also being used somewhat sporadically on websites in the form of splash pages.

Using splash pages on the internet

Web design
Photo: StartupStockPhotos, Pixabay

The function of the splash page on websites is somewhat different to video games. This is because unlike video games, where casual observers can forget who made the actual game, there’s little chance of that happening on websites. Therefore, website splash screens are more in line with what LucasArts used to do, by showing visitors eye-catching designs or animations, which is the internet equivalent of rolling out the red carpet.

Other times, you can also use splash screens only temporarily to highlight a limited time promotion that you’re currently offering. For specialised websites, say a website that deals in audio contents or websites that people might find offensive or disturbing, a splash page could also act as a form of warning, telling users that they might want to put on some headphones first or as parental warning of some sort.

Splash pages can also be used for the purpose of e-commerce, where visitors are directed to a splash page first (asking them to choose between men’s and women’s products for example), before entering the main site. You can use this splash page to give visitors a short introduction to your products; showing how they were made or what makes them stand out. This helps familiarise your visitors with your products.

Either way, the goal is usually the same, which is to call attention to something you’d like your visitors to be aware of. From this short description, it’s easy to see why using a splash page might be particularly appealing to those wanting to show off their creative side. As with any creative indulgences, splash pages can be a bit of a style over substance, which is why there are some considerations you have to figure out before committing on splash pages.

Things to look out for when it comes to splash pages

Long story short, there’s a reason why splash pages are merely used sporadically, if they’re without flaws they’d be used everywhere. Sometimes, splash pages can be like a bit of an opening act for a musician you’ve been desperately wanting to see. I mean sure, they might be excellent but sometimes, you just want to jump straight into the main event. On the other hand, a great opening act can also get you more pumped up for the main event so again, it’s far from a cut & dry situation. It’s about using them so you can adapt to web design trends and build a successful website.

The other thing to consider is that you want to make sure that your splash pages don’t take too much time to load. Continuing the concert analogy, how would you feel if the opening act went beyond their allotted time, forcing the main event to be delayed by several minutes? Using this line of thinking, you might want to slow down on the animations a little bit if you find that it’s getting pretty heavy.

One final thing I’d like to say here is to make sure that you add an option for returning visitors to skip the splash page entirely. For good measure, you might also want to include a skip button for everyone. Some people are simply pressed for time or have little appreciation for the finer things in life. In order to accommodate for these users,  add a feature for them to jump directly into the main website, as this minimises the chances of you losing any potential customers.