That is the question. I have mentioned many times before on All About iWeb that I spend a lot of my time looking at other peoples iWeb-sites either for inspiration or to help solve their problems.
One thing I have noticed however is how many of you have splash screens. You know the sort of thing, a page that welcomes visitors with an image or 2 and the obligatory phrase ‘Click here to enter’.
This got me thinking; why do so many iWeb users have splash screens/pages?
Let’s start by explaining, what is a splash screen. In basic terms it is the first page that a user sees when they visit y0ur site. As a rule it offers no useful content but just serves to whet the appetite of the site visitor. Typically they are used by companies to provide details, or draw attention to the latest products and/or services on offer and (perhaps more commonly) by people in the design world to show off fantastic pieces of work.
In that sense they are a good idea. If you have a fabulous new idea, why not draw attention to it by putting it on the first page. To answer that question you must put yourself in the place of your average site user.
Splash screens annoy people; plain and simple. Just like pop-up adverts annoy people. In a nutshell if the first page of your web-site is an advert then it is acting in exactly the same way as a pop-up advert that just ….popped-up in front of your web-site.
I am not saying don’t have splash screens, far from it. In the examples I have given above, having a well-designed start page can be a good idea. But it is the ‘well-designed’ part of that sentence that counts.
To begin with there is the navigation. If you are a designer or photographer and have your bestest image on a spash screen why do you only have a ‘Enter’ link. Why not put one for your portfolio too. And if your image really is that good why not let a user contact you too, to enquire about work.
The same applies to a company site. By all means advertise your latest product on a splash page, but add a link to the page on your site that has the rest of your products too, not just to your home page. Who knows, you could sell more.
It is common knowledge amoungst ‘half-decent’ web-designers that you only have a split second to catch the eye of your site visitor and if you don’t catch that eye the user will be off somewhere else. Give users the opportunity to explore further within your site rather than just ‘Enter’. Take a look at the two examples I created below; which do you think would be more useful to a visitor?
Of course the design and look of your splash page is not the only consideration you must take when creating it; there is SEO too. It is the first page of your site after all.
Search engines love keywords, everyone knows that. If you have a splash page as your iWeb sites first page where do you put all of those lovely keywords that relate to your site? The ‘Home’ page no doubt. You could get to the stage where your home page ranks higher than your splash page in a search engine and it eventually becomes redundant; it is something to bear in mind.
At a very minimum give all your images an ‘alt-tag’ using Rage’s iWeb SEO tool (or by adding them manually if you are that way inclined).
In a nutshell, if you must have a splash screen, start page, splash page, call it what you will, make sure it is useful and make sure it helps your SEO.
Do you use a splash screen on your iWeb site? Let us know why and leave a link in a comment.