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How to Design an Unforgettable Splash Screen that Delights Your Users

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How To Design A Splash Screen

“You never get a second chance to make a first impression” that’s how the saying goes. This applies to interacting with new people and when users experience your application for the first time. Research shows that it takes 50 milliseconds for users to decide whether they are going to stay on your app or leave. That’s why splash screens are important, they set the stage for how your users are going to perceive and experience your application. This article will discuss what splash screens are, why they are important, and the best practices for designing them. 

What is a splash screen?

A splash screen is an introductory screen that users see when they launch your app or website. It is a chance to build your brand identity and it keeps users occupied while your app loads in the background. This screen can either be an image, graphic, logo, or animation sometimes coupled with a progress bar.  

Why do you need a splash screen?

Splash screens were frequently used when devices were slow and the internet was even slower. Nevertheless, they still matter today with fast internet and faster devices because of the following reasons:

Keep users occupied during startup 

Even though apps have become much faster, the truth is that they still require a few seconds to set up before users can interact with them. Maybe your user needs to enter their log-in details again or some images need to be loaded or some homepage data needs to be loaded before the user enters the app. The splash screen keeps the user occupied while these background tasks are executed so that they can have a seamless experience.

Plus, splash screens with progress bars reduce app abandonment. They tell the user exactly what’s going on and how long they have to wait which reduces anxiety and makes the wait feel shorter. 

Welcome users and set the stage for their in-app experience

A splash screen sets the standard of what your users should expect when they start interacting with your app. Welcoming users and setting expectations is very important because if users perceive your app positively in the early instances of interacting with it, they are likely to perceive that they had a positive experience.

The splash screen serves the same purpose as the grand entrance in a hotel or a business complex. The entrance signifies that you are entering into a sophisticated and high-quality establishment. Similarly, when a user taps onto your app’s icon they are immediately transported into your app’s world. A splash screen is a chance to welcome the user and set the stage for a phenomenal experience. 

Best practices for designing a splash screen 

Before we talk about the best practices for creating a great splash screen, it’s important to note that not all mobile apps need to have splash screens. Sometimes splash screens create unnecessary friction especially when an app is used often. For instance, imagine having to go through a 3-second splash screen every time you checked your WhatsApp messages (even after 3 minutes), that would be annoying right? 

Here are the best practices for creating splash screens that welcome your visitors and create a great first impression. 

Make it as short as possible

Splash screens should follow the 3-second rule which states that they should not last for more than 3 seconds. If your splash screen lasts for more than 3 seconds, then it will frustrate regular app users and take away from the user experience. Additionally, if you expect users to use your app regularly (at least once a day, like messenger apps) then use the 1-second rule or eliminate it altogether. 

If your application takes longer than 3 seconds to load, use a skeleton screen instead of a splash screen. Skeleton screens show a skeleton of the final user interface which reduces user anxiety. Slack uses skeleton screens very well. 

Keep simple but memorable 

Since you only have 3 seconds to make an unforgettable first impression, use simple but bold designs. You need to strike a delicate balance between overloading your users with a million different animations and creating a cold and sterile splash screen. 

Most designers use bold colors, arresting images, and animated logos on their splash screens. Kindle app is a great example of a simple but eye-catching splash screen. Avoid putting adverts and other self-serving messages that users don’t care about on your splash screen. 

Reduce wait time anxiety

When users don’t know if your app has crashed or if it is still loading, there is a high chance that they will abandon it. That’s why progress bars and progress animations are very useful in reducing user anxiety. They let users know how long they need to wait which reduces the chances of them abandoning your app. If your app has a short wait time, you can use spinners but if it has a longer wait time, progress bars are more appropriate because spinners can cause frustration when they seem to be spinning forever. Google Workspace uses a progress bar very well. 

Add an element of surprise and delight 

If you have enough time and budget on your hands, you can add some fun and personality to your splash screen. Fun animations and splash screens that fade seamlessly into the UI are some of the ways that you can delight your users. As always, be careful of going overboard. A great way of doing this is by making the elaborate splash screen appear only when the user first launches the app. Check out these examples:

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Design unforgettable splash screens 

A splash screen is a gateway that opens up your app to your users. A great splash screen can increase user perceptions of your app and strengthen your brand awareness. Design an unforgettable welcome screen with UXPin’s all-in-one tool that merges design and engineering. 

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