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Eliminate Splash Pages for a Better Event Website

You drove into work this morning and stumbled onto this post or perhaps you are reading this in the evening after just getting home. Either way, if you live near a metropolitan area, you probably had a long ride that included other cars, a lot of noise and the dreaded traffic jam.

How did you feel about sitting in traffic and the distractions? How did you like not being able to see what was ahead? Did you try to find shortcuts or did you just go with the flow of traffic? I am sure that your reaction was not a positive one.

What you do not like about modern commuting may actually be what attendees do not like about your conference or event website.

The Splash Page and Your Event Website

If you don’t know what a splash page is, good for you! They are awful things that need to go away. Splash pages were really popular about a million web years ago (about 2005) and Wikipedia describes splash screens this way (and it is a pretty good description):

On the Web, a splash screen or splash page is a page of a web site that acts as a front page prior to displaying the home page. Designers may use splash pages:

  • to direct users to the appropriate website for their country or language preference
  • to direct users to a low-bandwidth site or one more accessible to disabled users
  • as an additional form of advertising
  • to restrict access to content such as pornography, alcohol advertising or sales, or gambling
  • as an aesthetic complement to the main page

On most websites, the splash page is long dead, an extinct relic that is banished to the pages of history but there are some in the meeting and event world that simply do not want to give up on the past and they still believe that splash pages add value.

They do not add value, they are a nuisance that your attendees hate (Splash screens should not be lumped with pop-ups, they are totally different).

Why Should you Avoid the Splash Page

There are studies that show that up to 25% of your audience leaves the second they arrive at a splash page. In fact, here is a snip from a post over at NetMechanic:

It doesn’t always work that way. Some sites that have tried splash pages found that more than 25% of their visitors left the site immediately. These statistics have lead many organizations to ban them. For instance, the Web site guidelines on the PBS Online page advise the following:

“In most cases, PBS Online discourages the use of splash pages, because our users complain of unnecessary download time. Producers who have created splash pages, often end up taking them down at the request of their audiences.”

There is nothing worse than hitting that splash page and seeing “Welcome to Conference XYZ, you will be directed to the web site in 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…….” By this point, if you are like me, you have already surfed on to greener pastures because being forced to do what you do not want to do makes you crazy, especially if you are at work and simply want to register for the event.

Help People Help You

People want to help your event, especially people that use social media on a regular basis. They love to share information that they find so it pays to make your website as user friendly as possible.

The best way to make your site user friendly is to let your attendees get to where they need to go as quickly as possible. When you break that flow, you are like a skeezy sales guy that only talks about what he wants to sell and that drives people nuts.

Helping Search Engines Help You

Splash pages can screw with search engines if done incorrectly and most are done incorrectly. With Google’s new search updates, you need to make your site as clean and as fast as possible to avoid getting a getting lower search ranking. Search may not be a big deal for some but what I have found is that most conferences and events want to be found.

Search is also influenced by how many people link to your site and I am not about to link to a site that makes people miserable, even if it is just for a couple of seconds.

Helping Current Attendees Help You

Regular visitors HATE having to click the skip or enter button rather than just landing on your conference homepage. They will avoid going to your website if they know that they are going to be forced to wait for a splash page to load.

If your regular visitors cannot get to your site or avoid your conference website, how are they going to share your information. How are they going to become engaged on your conference or event blog? How are they going to spread the word about your event.

Does it Add Value

The main goal of any conference or event website is to add value to your attendees lives. You want your attendees to happy with your site so they return often to get industry news, conference or event updates and to get information. If you are messing with that dynamic, even in an innocent way, you are going to lose people.

How many will you lose? Who knows, it depends on the attendees “pain threshold” but I am sure of one thing, no event or conference can afford to lose any number of attendees in this period of short attention spans. It is even worse to lose attendees for a reason as silly as splash page vanity.

Before the boss and his event-narcissism take hold, ask one question, does it add value. Value in this case is: does it make an attendee more likely to register or commit to whatever action you want them to take; if it does not add this value then you should leave it out.

Your Event Website Should be Simple Yet Beautiful

Start with a clean and clear design. Have no obstructions to the attendee getting the information that they need in as few clicks as possible. They want the schedule? Click. They want information on sponsors? Click. They want speaker bios? Click, click. They want to register? CLICK.

This is how the web is evolving and you and your event needs to evolve as well.

Splash pages used to be a cool way to show the world that you “got it”, that you were one of the cool kids. Now, they are just kinda dumb, like parachute pants, big hair and the mullet.

Do you want your event website to be the online version of a mullet?

Here are a few observations about the internet.

The internet is no longer cool, the internet is no longer new and the internet is longer a mystery. People use the internet as part of their everyday lives and they just want to get on with it. They are no longer dazzled by shiny, pretty things on their computer screens.

Get back to your website and take it for a drive, does it keep the traffic flowing or are you bumper to bumper.

Image: Buzrael

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