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IS YOUR WEB DESIGNER DRIVING AWAY YOUR SITE’S VISITORS?

Your radio station website is not a playground for your webmaster — or a dumping ground for the cookie cutter output of an outsourced provider. It’s a marketing tool. It’s a valuable opportunity to further engage your listeners or clients.

You agree? Good. But have you made that clear to your Web designer?

For example….

Splash Pages

Have you ever had the experience of clicking on a link or entering a Web address and instead of being taken to the home page, you arrive at a page that says:

“Welcome! Click here to enter.”

That’s a splash page.

Splash pages waste people’s time.

People already did the work to come to your site. It’s crazy to ask them to do more work now.

Think about your radio station. You use marketing and promotions and advertising to convince people to sample your station. Direct mail, TV, billboards, busboards:

“Listen Thursday morning at 7:10 for our $10,000 birthday song, on 102.7!”

You finally convince someone to tune in 102.7 for your $10,000 birthday song. They tune in to 102.7 and what they hear is:

“Thank you for tuning in 102.7, now go to 103.1!”

Your radio station wouldn’t be stupid enough to do that. Why would your website be that stupid?

The only valid reason for a station website to have a splash page is if you have a site that offers information in more than one language:

“Welcome to RadioX.com. Click here for the English presentation, click here for Spanish, click here for Norwegian.”

Otherwise, splash pages only serve the purpose of wasting people’s time.

You can confirm this with your own experience. You know what it’s like to click on a link or type in a URL and end up at something that says, “Click here to enter.”

When that happens, what is your response?

If you’re like most people, your response is one of annoyance: “Why do I have to click to enter? Just put me there!”

For more ideas on how to maximize the value of your radio station’s website, here’s a handy resource.

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  • S!ick December 30, 2008, 7:05 am

    Some markets and stations are forced into those horrible corporate templates…they not only need to eat more of their own dog food, but taste it.

  • Justin December 30, 2008, 9:37 am

    I don’t know about this, Dan. You seem to take great offense to a minor design problem–and I don’t even grant that it is a serious problem. Splash pages are a way to announce that you have arrived at your intended destination and set a tone for the visitor. I can’t think of a single instance where I clicked away from a page or hesitated from returning due to a splash page. They are not an enormous inconvenience–your point that it is like telling listeners to listen at a certain time and then directing them to another radio station is specious. It is like inviting someone to your home and then directing them into another room. Based on your logic we shouldn’t have lobbies in large buildings, just elevators at the front door because if people are slightly inconvenienced they will cease coming back. Without any empirical evidence to support your theory I just don’t buy it.

    If you have great content, and provide users a purpose in using your website, then they will return–splash pages be damned. If you want to talk about things that cause me to close a website, think about ESPN that starts playing an unsolicited video with audio every time I enter. There are times I’m looking for info, assume that ESPN will have it, and have to close the window in a panic before I get into trouble for making a racket.

    I think addressing website design flaws is a valid topic for discussion, but this one lacks gravitas.

  • The Red Man December 30, 2008, 10:26 am

    As a broadcast student, one of the things I’ve been taught when writing copy … promos, liners, stopset banter, etc … keep it as simple as possible because you have to imagine your listeners as all having severe ADD. They have short attention spans, so how can you expect them to NOT get annoyed at having to go through a splash page to get to the website they’ve been told to navigate to?

  • Dan O’Day December 30, 2008, 11:20 am

    @ JUSTIN: I understand that you think this is just my opinion, and I applaud your position that “without any empirical evidence to support your theory I just don’t buy it.” But it’s not my theory; it’s my reporting of mountains of empirical evidence.

    The world’s #1 web usability expert is Jakob Nielsen. Here’s how major business publications describe him:

    “The guru of Web page usability” (New York Times)

    “The reigning guru of Web usability” (Fortune magazine)

    The Chicago Tribune says Nielsen “knows more about what makes Web sites work than anyone else on the planet.”

    Meanwhile, publications read by Web geeks say Jakob is:

    “the king of usability” (Internet Magazine)

    “the Web’s usability czar” (WebReference.com)

    “the smartest person on the Web” (ZDNet AnchorDesk).

    Jakob tests everything. He pioneered the use of website heat maps and user eye-tracking. Quoting now from the book, PRIORITIZING WEB USABILITY (http://budurl.com/nielsen) by Jakob Nielsen and Hoa Loranger:

    “Splash pages were an early sin of abusive Web design because they hindered people from getting to what they came for….There are still a few sites that insist on slowing down users with this abomination of a design technique….

    New small-business sites seem particularly susceptible to the lure of splash pages — possibly because their owners insist on fancy designs at the expense of catering to customers and their needs.

    “Splash screens must die. They give users the first impression that a site cares more about its image than about solving their problems….It must communicate respect for the visitor’s time or people will simply leave…..You have less than two minutes with prospective customers before they decide whether to leave your site. Don’t waste any of it on a splash screen.“

  • Cindy Campbell December 30, 2008, 11:22 am

    Agreed! I hate splash pages. I’ll get a phone call from a listener with an artist question. I go to the artists’ website, and I get a slow-loading splash page, that won’t let me enter the site ’til it’s done. Meanwhile, the listener is waiting on the phone. Bugs me!

  • Beth January 12, 2009, 9:15 am

    I have to agree AND disagree with this topic. I find that yes, we are all products of “I WANT IT NOW”. I agree that there are sites that use AND abuse splash pages. When every time I log in, I have to work my way through a splash page, I don’t necessarily get mad or annoyed, but I just stop paying attention to any of the information other than “click here to enter….” Which is then a waste of a listener’s time and of the webmaster.

    However, when used sparingly, such as once every few months and only for a day or two, I think it can be a real benefit for special events. Don’t create a Splash page to support your morning show page..who cares..we already know about that…create your splash pages for your biggest quarterly promotions or even impromptu last minute events like charity events or MAJOR ticket Giveaways/Announcements. Run it just a day or two and then it becomes the exception and not the rule.

    So you are no longer completely “annoying” your listeners, you are giving them pertinent information and it happens so few times that it’s not ignored.

    Splash Pages are not necessary, but can be helpful. they just shouldn’t be abused, like most things are when we discover a new feature.

    just my opinion.

  • Gustavo July 7, 2010, 11:10 pm

    Very good post

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