Splash Pages: Interesting or Annoying

I’ve seen college athletic departments use souped-up (and usually slow-loading) splash pages for a couple of years or so to announce major events in high-revenue sports like football or to publicize winning a championship. Last month, in the world of women’s basketball, it seemed like every school that made it to the elite 8 in the NCAA tournament threw up a fancy, Flash-driven splash page to announce their team’s berth. Now even women’s hoops coach hirings are getting special gateway pages.

For instance, when I wanted to simply read North Carolina State University’s press release about the highly-anticipated hiring of Kellie Harper, I had to click through a splash page to get to the GoPack.com home page. At least, it was just a static image and not in Flash with “Skip This” in a tiny font at the bottom of the page (or worse,a non-working skip link meaning I would have had to wait until the Flash file loaded and then played before I could get to the main site).
As someone who tends to value content over style I am usually annoyed by the presence of over-designed splash pages. More often than not, they annoy me because even with a high-speed connection, large Flash files may take too long to load for an impatient soul like me just looking for basic information. And pimped-out entry pages almost always lack basic navigation except for a lone link to enter the site.

elliott-splash-050609Yesterday, I surfed over to the University of Cincinnati’s Athletics site to refresh my memory on their program in the wake of Jamelle Elliot’s hiring and lo and behold, guess what?

I think the enthusiasm of sports departments is laudable when they want to celebrate an accomplishment. However, as a multimedia designer in my other life, I would prefer for athletic department web designers to sometimes just keep it simple. Give users quick and easy access to information and the option of viewing fancy Flash celebration pages instead of forcing us to find a click-through link to skip someone’s bloated SWF’s . What do you think? Do you prefer the splash pages or would you rather have faster access to the facts?

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