There was a time that every website it seemed came with its own gateway – a front page that contained no content and instead simply welcomed the viewer to the site and provided them with a nice big image or even an animation that they would come to associate with the site.
Today however these gateways are much less common and most sites will start out by right away landing you on the home page. So the question is, what’s the best option for your website? And why are so few sites using them today? Here we will look at the pros and cons of these pages to help you to come to your own decision on the matter.
Pros of Gateway Pages
First of all the advantages, and on the one hand these gateways often look nice and professional and add an aesthetic flare to your site. With an animation or some music you can very much set a tone for what is to follow and create the atmosphere you want for your page. This allows you to prime their mood and ensure that they are in the right state of mind when they consume what follows as you wish them to. At the same time this can also act as a useful separator to ensure that your visitors view your site as different from the rest of the web and it can help to make them pause and stop as quickly moving from one page to another. In a way, because they have had to click to enter, they have committed to the site in a way and thus will likely want to spend more time there. It’s a subtle difference but can be an effective way to increase the average length of time spent on your pages.
Cons of Entry Pages
On the other hand there are definite cons to entry pages too. One big issue here for instance is simply that flash and gif animations are looking quite dated and not supported anymore in the former case by many devices (such as Apple). This then means you either look dated or stick with a static image, which is frankly rather pointless.
Then you have the danger of losing visitors as soon as they arrive. People on the web are in a hurry and this means that they want the content they came for served up for them as fast as possible. If your page wastes their time with a video of a rising sun, then they may well simply click back and head elsewhere.
Furthermore the argument against entry pages is often that they are bad for SEO. The reason for this is that your index page suddenly becomes a page with nothing but a title and a logo meaning there’s nothing there really for the spiders to index. What is worth noting however is that this entry page will only come up when people navigate directly to your homepage and won’t be an issue when they find your content through Google, and this actually negates some of the issues brought up by the entry page neigh-sayers.
In short an entry page is a somewhat controversial addition with some definite drawbacks, BUT it is nevertheless useful in some ways and you should not write it off completely.
Patrick owns YarraWeb, a web design Melbourne company. Patrick has been designing websites for more than 10 years and has seen the web design industry transform itself drastically in these years.