I’m not a fan of app splash screens. They delay app usage without presenting any useful, or even pleasant, information or interface. To me, they imply either:
- badly thought out app design requiring loading loads of data before the UI can even be shown, or
- a pathetic branding attempt that spoils UX by unnecessarily delaying app access
Here’s some thoughts on how to (not) do splash screens in apps:
My pet favourite object of splash screen hatred is the MyFitnessPal app. It has not one, but 2-step splash screen. The first one shows a progress bar, which I assume shows the status of data stored locally on my device.
This is followed by another phase of splash screen madness under the Synchronising data title with a rotating symbol this time (so no indication of progress).
Only after the local data has been ‘loaded‘, and synchronised with the servers, is the user allowed to see the app UI. And despite this, the headline daily dairy numbers they show on landing screen is wrong most of the time. Specially if another app (Garmin Connect for me) has synced exercise calories with MyFitnessPal.
This feels so wrong. Why can’t they just show me the default landing page UI right away, letting me do what I do on most app uses – log food consumption – as quickly as possible. The changes can all be synced in the background.
The multiplicity of logos on the splash screen, as well as several other UI decisions in the app seem to convey that MyFitnessPal has a weak UI/X team being overridden frequently by a politically strong marketing/content team.
The screens seem to have been added just to provide a bit of brand space since the new, clean app UIs don’t provide much space for displaying Google, Maps or Drive brands. A marketing requirement, but handled delicately, hindering the UX as little as possible.
These remind me of a client who gave us 6 high quality images they wanted rotated as splash screens on every app launch. We hadn’t planned a splash screen there was no need for one from either app design or marketing point-of-view. It was just that someone high in the client’s political hierarchy wanted them in the app. Cringe!
Now to the splash screen discovery that led to this post – Strava.
Strava displays a splash screen on app launch (bad), but puts in a small personalisation (neat). Depending on what you identified as your primary activity in the profile – Cycling or Running – Strava shows you a different splash screen image on launch.
Most users wouldn’t discover this, since they don’t really switch main activity frequently (or ever). But they may be slightly pleased2 to see a beautiful photo of their preferred activity on the launch screen.
No splash screen would still be better UX, but if it has to be there, a bit of personalisation3 helps!
No. Splash. Screen!
Instantly usable UI.
- The splash screen for Maps is so short-lived that I only got a screenshot on my 3rd attempt! ↩
- My partner, Raghs, really loves the image of that girl running on the splash screen. So do I. The image of men cycling gets just a *meh* out of me. ↩
- I’m guessing that Strava’s choice of photos may have gone beyond just the activities.
– A girl running on a trail may be directed at the aspirations of majority user group amongst runners (urban women runners), while
– 2 men cycling up in the hills would be directed at the aspirations of majority user group amongst cyclists (MAMILs)
If so, well done Strava! ↩