Splash pages, guilty pleasures, and the art of sucking

Update: Now I do have a splash page, no thank to the people who read this... it's ok, I love you all.

Could I start off by saying how hard it is to come up with some decent rembles without trying to sound too negative? Half the time I find myself thinking "hmm, I could talk about X, but I don't like a lot about X. Too ranty?" It's easy to turn everything you say into EVERYTHING SUCKS AND I'M GOING TO GO ON AND ON ABOUT WHY but also hard to be 100% positive. So I guess one negativity gets to creep in on occasion. But I'll try to keep it on a tight leash.

Besides it's hard to be totally positive when talking about things you miss, and I wanted to set aside some ramble space to one of my online guilty pleasures - the splash page.

An old style splash page

(Image source: One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age)

I don't have a splash page right now. I might do in the future. The current site design I'm using is a copy of a layout for a personal site I owned somewhere around 2003, and it did have a splash page, a sort of purple vortex swirl inviting you deeper inside. There isn't one in this iteration, because the consensus is that splash pages are Bad. So ooh, better not put one in. Of course I get why, it's adding extra clicks, and the user doesn't get anything from the page. It's dead space.

But dammit, I still like splash pages.

I'd argue there's a time and a place for splash pages and a few considerations to take into account (I've seen more than a few pages where it's not easy to work out how you get into the site beyond, or if there even is one) but I don't want to throw them out. They work well, I think, with an old style, personal rabbit hole type of internet. The splash page is the portal to your own realm. It's the front door to a space that's absolutely yours. (Note that the link above assumed that you're setting up a website to sell something, and employing a designer to build it for you. Make a site for your own personal use? Whoever heard of doing that?)

The splash page, I think, typifies that idea of your space as being small and personal. When you're on a modern social network, you don't get that feeling. If you go on Twitter, you're having a conversation with the world, and the site doesn't let you forget that. I might not care about what the trending topic of the day is, but it's still going to be there sitting by the side of everything you put up. And if that's your thing, cool. Social media has a place and has done a lot of good in the world to offset what's annoying about it, so I'm not going to go out on a platform of SOCIAL MEDIA SUCKS FOR EVERYTHING when it just sucks for me. But I'm a pretty shy, quiet person, and I think I'd rather have a front door. Everything's up to see if you want to, but the feel isn't "Hey world, look what I did!" so much as "Uh, hi. Come in if you want? I have fruit tea.."

From a personal standpoint, I especially like splash pages on sites leading to fictional realms - a page of your art of writing, a worldbuilding project, or those old style cyberpet adoptions. For pages like that, a sort of symbolic divide - maybe a semi literal Here Be Dragons between the ordinary world and the new - makes sense, even if it has no practical use. Can't have Narnia without the wardrobe.

And in terms of unnecessary clicks, splash pages are a lot nicer than those pop up divs that show up when you're trying to read something. Let's see, I might have been interested in subscribing to your newsletter, but not any more. At least splash pages don't show up when you're in the middle of an article. But hey, popups increase revenue, so who gives a toss about user experience now?

A very annoying popup

There, now I found you something that really does suck.