Blue Utopia Blog

When to use a splash page. (Hint rarely)

Tue, Jun 21, 2016 - 12:20 PM

Splash pages, also referred to as sub-home pages are very common in political campaign websites.  Go to any presidential campaign site and you’ll likely get one jammed at you, asking you to donate, volunteer, or semi-politely demand your email. 

Despite the prevalence of these being used by teams that should know what they are doing, constant use of splash pages is NOT a practice and you should adopt except in limited circumstances.   

Why you should not use splash pages? 

Do you like those pop-up ads that take over your screen?  No need to answer.  The answer is no.  No one does.  But that’s essentially what a splash page is – at least ones that ask you for something and give nothing in return.   The purpose is to route you to a location or present an ask that is not necessarily where you intended to go on the website.  When this happens, a lot of people just leave (called a bounce).  And that bounce rate is considerably higher if it’s a mobile visit. 

Imagine for a second going to your local newspaper website to find out something happening in your area but before they send you to your content, they route you to a form seeking your email.   This is just irritating -- and borderline, rude. No one would tolerate that.  Yet, political campaign websites do it regularly.      

It’s not as if we need another reason but there is one.  Having a splash page can negatively affect your SEO rankings.  Google, Bing and other search bots rely heavily on the home page for link navigation and indexing.  When you intercept traffic with a splash page, you are also intercepting those search bots – with a splash page that has no links to any of your other site content.  There are technical ways around this but it costs time and money and, at the end of solving it, you’re still irritating your visitors.    

When and how to use a splash page.

With all the above said, there ARE some very good times to use a splash page.  Here are some rules to follow.

Be Timely and Specific.  A splash page should be temporary and for a specific event or action -- for example, you’ve created a petition and are trying to get as many signups in just a few days.   Or maybe it’s end of the quarter and you want an acute call-to-action of donating to help you hit your target.  Perfect.  These are both specific short-term events that are well suited for an intercepting splash page.

Allow Easy Passage.  If your visitor doesn’t want to donate or sign your petition, make it easy for them to bypass the splash page.  Most all splash pages have a link to ‘skip and go to website’ but teams feel the need to make it difficult to see.  And remember that a lot of your visitors are elderly, which means that (a) they don’t have throwaway email accounts to use in these situations and (b) the tiny little skip link can be damn hard to see.     

Provide value.  Petitions allow your visitors to be heard so a splash page with a call-to-action of signing a petition is an example of providing value.  Allowing your visitors to be heard, even in a small way, should improve their response.  For example, if you’re asking for money, place a button that allows them to say ‘no, I don’t want to give’.  They have now used your annoying splash page to be heard.  More importantly, they provided you some valuable feedback that you can use during this or future visits.  

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