Are splash pages really necessary? Well, first off, in order to make a valid case, what is a splash page? A splash page is a website’s entrance page. The splash page contains words or images to briefly convey the mood of the site, like a first impression or like in a business, a calling card. Some splash pages alert visitors on what the website best works in whether by a specific browser or size of screen resolution. There are no particular rules to making a splash page, and it is not always necessary. Not all websites contain a splash page. It is usually the Webmaster’s choice to use one.
In a personal website, which is one that mainly revolves around the Webmaster, a splash page is really not necessary. When assembling a website, the Webmaster should decide what type of navigation will make their site functional in the most expedient manner. Any information put into the site can be organized, particularly into three main categories: Webmaster, Visitor Content, and Site Information. Of course, this is for a personal website. The Webmaster section deals with everything that involves only information on the Webmaster. For example, it should be a brief bio or perhaps pictures. The Visitor section contains information for the visitor to be able to take with them, whether it is graphics or perhaps an interesting article to read. The Site Information section is strictly about the website. This is where a Webmaster would put their link exchanges, site credits, disclaimer, history, and much more. Of course, these three main categories are not official names and sometimes can be broken down into five categories like: Webmaster, Visitor, Domain, WWW, and Exits. These are most common in websites. Some website owners use frilly alternative words to suit their personal style, but the concept is all the same.
In having these sections, the splash page becomes redundant. Recommendations for browser information and screen resolution can be placed in the brief site welcome paragraph or even in the Site Information section. The layout for the website should suffice as a calling card for what the visitor is to expect.
Efficient navigation is essential for any website. Some splash pages can be bulky on load time due to large images, and even people using the wonders of DSL and cable might be dissuaded from entering. On the other hand, sites that contain content not suitable for younger crowds may find it best to use a splash page for their website. This splash page would act as a way to deter younger viewers from entering. A simple page with a site disclaimer, in which two links would suffice. One would say if you are under the age of 18, then to click and it would direct you elsewhere, like Google. The other link would say if you are over 18, then click, and it would direct you to the main part of the website. An excellent example of this is Adultfanfiction.net. In exercising this option, it covers the site owner’s back from being sued or shut down due to its easy access for younger viewers. This acts much like the ‘At Your Own Risk’ sign, so the viewer is without a doubt warned about the content within.
It is difficult to decide whether a splash page is really a necessity. The decision should be based on the on how the splash page is portrayed. If the splash page is bulky in content, whether it be in images or in text, or both, then it is best to do away with the idea and add the information to the main part of the website. On the other hand, if the information on the splash page is sparse, then it is not needed. The visitor only needs to see the gist of the website, but not the other frivolities like links out, sites reference links, buttons or links to sites the Webmaster has joined, and so forth. The splash page really becomes like an illustrated cover of a book and these extras make it tacky.
If having a splash page is a must, keep it simple; a simple and tasteful image to fit the layout of the main part of the website, a few words like resolutions and browser requirements, then perhaps a counter or a small site disclaimer. In the end, any visitor will appreciate visiting.
So, are splash pages necessary? For the majority of sites, a resounding no. However, for adult content sites, that is up to the Webmaster and should be considered seriously.
What do you think?