What are Splash Pages?
A splash page is a page that precedes any page on your website. The purpose of a splash page varies: You can promote a new offer, show a disclaimer, or a warning depending on the industry or niche your business operates in.
Unlike a squeeze page or a landing page, splash pages don’t necessarily ask visitors to enter their name or email address. The basic purpose of a splash page is to inform visitors of something, such as a new company update or a thought-provoking quote like Forbes does with their splash page below:
A typical splash page contains minimal copy, a background image, and most importantly a link that takes the visitor to the main website. In Forbes’ example, the “continue to site” directs visitors to the homepage.
A splash page can be a welcome screen to the main website or a teaser that gets visitors excited for the website they’re about to view.
Or, you may notice many alcoholic brand websites include an “age disclaimer” splash page, which serves as a warning to the visitor. Although Federal law does not require these splash pages, the Federal Trade Commission says brands selling alcohol should self-regulate themselves and use age verification technologies.
These are special types of splash pages because they are industry-specific, do not have an exit link, and force the visitor to verify their age before granting access to the main website.
Look at Budweiser’s splash page, for example:
The evolution of splash pages
According to Smashing Magazine splash pages were mainly created to serve one of these main purposes, among others:
- Visitors were asked to select the language they would like to view the website
- Visitors could choose the website version they wanted to view based on their internet bandwidth
- The pages were used to display disclaimers or warnings for websites that had restricted access for some users such as gambling websites or pornography
- Visitors were alerted the main website has sound enabled, so to receive the full experience they would need to turn on speakers
- Visitors are told how long it would take to load the website
Due to the fact these types of splash pages didn’t add any value to the user experience and slowed down site speed, Google and other search engines began penalizing websites that hosted these pages.
These pages were often poorly-designed and turned visitors off from the website altogether. In essence, splash pages were causing a hindrance for users to engage with the website and business as a whole.
Hrubes’ splash page is a perfect example of a poorly designed splash page causing user frustration:
The page has an eye-piercing background color and a small message informing visitors to download a Flash player to proceed with the website. Visitors are also given the chance to “ENTER” — of which many would assume this directs you to the website without having to download the Flash player.
However, once you click the “ENTER” button, this is the page you land on:
Both options prohibit you from entering the website until you download the flash player – not a great user experience to say the least.
However, most splash pages have evolved into something more optimized. Visitors are not brought to a splash page so they can wait around for the website to load. Now, a splash page is opened to enhance the user’s experience. Users are either informed of something, a promotion is featured, or they are asked to become a part of something the website has to offer.
Splash pages are no longer just flashy screens. Instead, they are pages that have some valuable information for the visitors. Also, they have a noticeable and easy-to-find link to navigate away from the page.
The splash page of Harvard Business Review is a perfect example of this; it has an exit link that takes you to the page you intended: