A client approached us recently about putting together a website with an intro page.
Their idea was to make it animated and act as a pretty introduction to the rest of the site.
Essentially an intro page is an introduction to a website giving the user one or two options, most notably to ‘Enter’. This can be a nice way to start a user ‘journey’ through a website, especially when the website tells a story. We however, immediately recommended against this approach.
This particular client had no story to tell – they were selling a product and they simply liked the idea of an intro page. We proceeded to explain why we would advise against such an idea.
Google places more ‘weight’ on the initial page of a website more so than any other page. It would seem a waste to sacrifice all the natural SEO that a home page has to offer just to have something that may look ‘pretty’. We speak from experience as we’ve witnessed the effect it can have on visitor exits (bounces) when a site with an intro page and site without are tested side-by-side. This is known as AB split testing. The site without an intro page has, hands down, a lower visitor bounce rate every time.
Bouncing visitors to another page immediately on arrival is also generally not a good idea. In addition to this, if visitors are forced to wait for animations to load, even if not produced in Flash and designed only to look pretty, they may loose interest and leave. This is never good, especially when one of the goals for this particular website was to sell a product. If a visitor does make it through this process, they may not make it through subsequent visits.
In our experience, the best way to impress new visitors is not with sparkle or prettiness but with a great service, delivered in a clear and concise way.