Illustration by Tracy Dai
The mobile application experience is not just about creating a meaningful solution to a problem but also about producing a delightful experience. In application design, creating a strong and aesthetically pleasing first impression is highly valuable for both onboarding new users and retaining existing users—the equivalent of a good first impression at a job interview.
So how should product designers create a memorable experience for their app design? Think of the splash screen as the door to your application. Just as the front door is a part of your house, the mobile app splash screen is a short introductory section for what to expect. It helps prevent loading delays in the application by making the transition as smooth as possible.
When creating mobile apps, why make a splash screen? There is more to an app splash screen than you may think, so let’s dive deep into why you should use one and some mobile app splash screen design best practices.
What is an app splash screen?
An app splash screen is an introductory screen that appears while your application loads in the background. You may see the company logo accompanied by some text or more imagery that enhances a user’s first impression.
The origins of app splash screens
Even though splash screens are now commonly used in the tech industry, they originated in the comic industry as the splash page. In the early days of comics, splash pages were used as a full-page illustration to introduce readers to the story. Widely used in various comic books, the main objective of the splash page was to set the time and place for the story. Splash pages are now making a big comeback as splash screens in digital application design.
Why use a mobile app splash screen?
These days, mobile devices are more powerful than ever, with applications loading in seconds. As a result, mobile app designs are becoming more complex. You might think that app splash screens would be obsolete by now, but they have persisted. Let’s look into why:
Welcomes the user and sets the tone
A delightful user experience begins the moment a user opens an application. The mobile app splash screen welcomes the user and sets the tone for the in-app experience, helping to create and preserve a positive first impression for the user.
Manages a user’s perception
The design can trigger powerful emotions that affect a user’s perception. The app splash screen helps to set an expectation about what type of experience the user is going to have. The biggest problem with mobile apps is that you can’t afford a long waiting time; the longer the user has to wait, the more likely the user will abandon the app. The splash screen makes the waiting time less painful for the user.
Smooths out delays in loading
According to PsychCentral, if people know how much time they have to wait before they start doing something, tasks seem to run smoothly. If they don’t know how long a task will take, their anxiety increases. For example, imagine you’re waiting in line at the store, and the line is quite long. You may start feeling anxious when you think about how long it will take to get to the front of the line and abandon your cart.
Feeling anxious is common among mobile application users. To reduce app waiting time, developers can use a mobile app splash screen, which gives users a sense of accomplishment even while the application is loading in the background.
How to make a mobile app splash screen
The mobile splash screen is only visible for a brief second or two in the complete experience. To master the impact of the splash screen, use these key tips for creating an app splash screen.
1: Manage the splash screen size
A designer should focus on creating a correctly sized splash screen. Use the design size guidelines below to create a splash screen for Android or iOS:
2: Keep the design unique and simple
The splash screen’s key purpose is to grab the user’s attention quickly with unique and simple designs. Try to use current color trends such as gradients but avoid using too much text since the splash screen only appears for a couple of seconds.
3: Keep the user informed while they wait
The app splash screen is the user’s first point of interaction. If the application takes more time than expected to load, it should show the current state of the system. It’s a bad idea to use the splash screen for promoting anything that’s not relevant to the product or service.
4: Showcase the brand’s design identity
The image displayed in a mobile app splash screen should showcase the brand. Many organizations use the app splash screen to showcase their mission and vision. Since the splash screen appears for a second or two, the idea of having text to convey messages about the brand does not work. The best option here is to present the brand idea graphically so the users can grab it, memorize it, and understand it quickly and effectively.
5: Engage the users while the mobile app loads
If your mobile or web app takes time to load, make the experience more interesting by switching images, showing interactive graphics, or displaying the system’s current state to the user to make them aware of what is going on in the application process.
6: Use the three-second rule
When designing an app splash screen, take the time to consider a few limitations. A splash screen should be quick, no more than three seconds in total to display. If it takes longer than a few seconds, a user may begin to feel frustrated.
Examples of great splash screen designs
Displaying the mobile app logo directly on the splash screen is a commonly used method to increase brand recognition. The design below uses a common color trend of gradients that uplift the logo in white, which helps direct the user’s eye to the logo. Designers should always select a color scheme that matches the logo and brand.
In the app splash screen example below, the designer uses a single flat color and the logo, which blends into the background color. This splash screen shows what is expected in the mobile app, with a minimalistic design that is mirrored on the splash screen. Using this approach allows you to set expectations for the mobile app experience from the very beginning.
The mobile app splash screen is an essential part of the product that gives users a clear idea about the application. Designers should always look into the possibility of creating a meaningful and understandable app splash screen so that the user experience will be delightful from the very beginning.