I recently wrote a general web design post on why splash pages are a poor idea. Since we're in the California wine country and work a lot with wineries, I thought it would worthwhile to give some examples based on winery websites. I'm going to discuss some specific websites, but only what visitors see when they first reach the site. I'm not going to analyze the overall site designs.
Not So Good
The Far Niente website has a splash screen that uses a large (900KB) Flash file. This will take a while to load on a slow Internet connection. But there is an "enter the site..." link that shows up after a few of the individual pictures load, so the visitor can eventually skip the intro if they want.
A problem, typical of sites with splash screens based on Flash, occurs if the user does not have Flash (or does not have it enabled). What they get is a blank screen with the Flash logo in the middle (see image at right). The trick is to hover your cursor over the area where the Flash image would have displayed. The Flash logo then turns into a arrow, and you can click to proceed into the site. Will the visitor know to do this? Who knows?
The Louis Martini website also has a splash screen. If you read my earlier post, you know I don't think splash screens are a good idea. But at least this splash screen is not based on Flash, so it works regardless of how the visitor has their browser set up. They just click on "ENTER SITE" and they're there.
No Splash Is No Guarantee
Note that avoiding a splash screen is no guarantee of good usability. The Quintessa website does not have an extraneous splash page. Its problem is that the home page (including the menu) is based entirely on Flash. If the visitor does not have Flash, they get the usual blank screen with the Flash logo in the middle. No menu, no "click here to enter".
What Do You Think?
Am I being too picky? Do you think that these types of issues are not a problem? Let me know.
Note: This post was originally posted on my Vintagefactor blog and moved here.