Every good mobile application needs a smart, elegant splash screen – there are no two ways about it. In what follows, we would highlight some points that app designing experts need to keep in mind, while making these intro screens.
To stand a chance of becoming popular, a mobile app has to make a positive first impression on people checking it out. It’s all very well to include a host of advanced features and controls in it – but if an app looks dull to start off with, few would feel like downloading it from the stores (or even, finding out more about them). This is the point where the importance of splash screens comes to the fore. These screens serve as the intro page of mobile applications – and they need to be designed in a way to capture the interest of users from the very outset. Here are a few handy guidelines to create great splash screens for mobile apps:
- Make it appear as a part of the app – Splash screens are, in essence, tools to kill off those extra seconds that are required for a mobile app to load fully on a device. However, mobile app developers need to make the screens seem an integral part of the applications, and not an extra page. The duration of the splash screen has to be kept short. After all, your mobile apps (hopefully!) won’t take forever to load!
- Avoid using long texts or heavy graphics – There is no point in writing long lines of text on the splash screen – simply because no one would get the time to read them. Ideally, use an interesting tagline, which offers viewers a proper initial idea about the application. Use simple yet elegant app development graphic themes on the splash screen. Otherwise, the screen might become slow, hurting the overall performance of the app.
- Make the screen scalable – Splash screens take up practically the whole of the display area of smartphones. However, the screen size figure differs from one smartphone model to another – and this makes scalability a must-have feature in these screens. For instance, professionals from dedicated iPhone application development companies have to keep in mind the screen dimensions of the latest iOS device models, while creating splash screens for apps. Those involved in cross-platform app development have to be even more conscious about making their splash screens properly scalable.
- Use it as a branding tool – Considering a mobile splash screen to be only a medium to show off cool animation effects would be rather naive. You should ideally put your company as well as the unique app logo on it, along with other visual branding elements (images, symbols, punchlines, etc.). The screen would be displayed every time the app is launched, and you can easily use the former to enhance the general awareness about your company.
- Edit/crop images properly before using it on the screen – Remember, once you have created and included a splash screen, altering it is practically impossible. This makes it imperative that you select appropriate, colorful and properly-cropped pictures on the screen. If you are experienced in working with photo editors like Sumo Paint and/or Adobe Photoshop, editing images in an efficient manner before putting them up on the app intro screen won’t be a problem.
- Don’t make it too long – There are many mobile app companies who mess up on this factor. A splash screen display should never go on beyond a maximum of ten seconds (if anything, it should last between 5-8 seconds). As soon as the app has loaded, users should be redirected to its main page. On average, 1 out of every 4 mobile users close/uninstall apps simply because they have too long splash displays. A quick, short intro – that’s what you should create.
- Check the screen resolution level – What looks great on an iPhone 5 handset might look distorted on an iPhone 4 – and would, in all likelihood, appear too stretched on the iPhone 6 (which would have a larger screen size). In general too, the average resolution levels on the display of Apple phones is radically different from that on Android handsets (e.g., the Samsung Galaxy range of phones). While creating separate splash screens for every model would be way too time-consuming, you should ideally have three screen versions ready. That way, you can implement low, medium and high-resolution screens, depending on the device an app is downloaded on.
- Focus on the center – Inspite of careful cropping and resizing, the edges of a splash screen might not be visible/appear blurred on certain smartphones. If you have images/text in these areas, they would not be viewable. You can tackle such probable problems, by putting in all your designs and other UI/UX creative work at and around the central portion of the screen. No one should have a problem in getting a clear view!
- Do not use Flash files – Can any mobile application development expert be absolutely certain that every user has Flash-enabled browsers in their smartphones? The answer would be negative, and iPhone handsets, in particular, do not support Flash files at all. A person won’t be able to help feeling irritated, when (s)he sees an intro page with the message ‘Flash Player Required’, on launching an application. That, in turn, can translate to high bounce rates from your app.
- Show the loading progress – For all your creativity and imagination used on a splash screen, the latter is nothing more than one (or, a series of) still images. There’s no scope of user-interaction on the screen – and many new mobile users might not have the patience for the entire splash display, even it lasts for only a few seconds. Put in a display bar that shows the loading progress of the app. It will lend a dynamic feel to the screen, and would assure users that the main app would be launched soon.
- Be aware of the ‘bleed’ area – Since the aspect ratios of mobile devices vary from one to the next, this is something you need to consider. If you contact any well-known app developer, (s)he would advise to keep around 100px of ‘bleed area’ on the left and right side of the screen, and approximately 200px at the top and at the bottom. Do not put anything inside these ‘bleed’ margins, they are not likely to be visible on most devices.
- Splash screens should never come in the way of app-usability – A simple, elegant splash screen always works better than one overcrowded with pictures and/or is too slow. Avoid using any element in the screen that might distract viewers, and make the screen optimized for devices that have relatively low-speed internet connectivity (if it is a web-supported app). Tasteful images, shown in an interesting manner before the main screen comes up, need to be used.
Splash screens should, almost always, be set up in the portrait mode. Test the screen carefully on the device(s) on which the app would be used, prior to the latter’s release. Android app developers, in particular, need to ensure that the size of their APKs is not increasing too much due to the inclusion of splash screen patches. It is not ‘necessary’ to have these screens from a technical perspective – but they can go a long way in piquing the interest of mobile-users at the very first go!
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