This post in my series on Best Practices for Tea Company Websites highlights a little thing that a lot of websites, including some tea company websites, do, which I think is silly, unnecessary, and slightly detrimental. This is to have a welcome page, entry page, or gateway page, a webpage that greets the user without having any real content and without having the full functionality of normal pages of your website.
It's great to welcome visitors to your site, but, in keeping with my advice about having consistent navigation schemes, I think it is a best practice to make the main part of your website, including navigation bars, available on the homepage.
Example of a welcome page:
Here is an example of a welcome page for The London Cuppa, a brand of British-style black tea:
As usual, I have chosen to give this company a hard time because I like a lot of the other things they are doing with their website, which I will discuss below.
What is the purpose to this page? The page as-is does not even make clear how to proceed. It took me a little time to notice the discrete link at the bottom that says "come in for a cuppa". This link is in plain black text, not underlined or highlighted in any way, so it is not clear that it is a hyperlink until hovering the mouse over it. Upon following it, I reach the following page:
This is now a fully-functional website. It is easy-to-navigate and visually pleasing. It even matches the visual look-and-feel of the tea's packaging (always a plus). There is a self-explanatory navigation bar at the top, and, not visible in the screenshot, a footer navigation bar as well. This whole setup begs the question: why not just direct the user to the full website initially?
I wish I had access to the statistics or data about the webserver. I would be curious to see how many users reach the welcome page, only to leave without entering the website.
What do you think?
Do you share my feelings about welcome pages? Do you think that there are any possible advantages to a welcome page that I am overlooking? One thing that I thought about was that possibly slowing down your users and inducing them to search through a page to locate a link, and then follow that link, would get them into a mindset that would make it more likely for them to explore your site. But that thought seems highly speculative to me, and I know that personally, as a user, I don't react well to these pages. Can you think up any other sort of benefits to them?