Thursday, 29 July 2010

How will it splash in future?

When we start an application, we are greeted by a splash screen. The splash screen lets us know the software we are about to open – it’s name, version, copyright information, the people involved in developing the software, loading status, etc.
The splash screens have undergone tremendous changes in terms of graphic design. A classic example is Photoshop, a tool we designers use often. Below are some examples of it's changes over the years.

The earliest splash screen - single color, single font.

As the resolution of screens increased, so did their graphics. The splash screens introduced color and visualized the product’s features.

The rectangular splash screen changed to free-form shape, going beyond the rectangle box.

However, the information displayed in splash screens over the years has undergone very minimal change. The splash screens were ideal when computers were slow and took time to start an application. But with faster computers, which take less than 5 seconds to start an application, how will user be able to view this information in future? Or do users ever read this information everytime?

Few softwares introduced the startup (welcome) screen, which helped user to pick the task he wanted to do easily, immediately after the splash screen disappeared (as shown below).

In this scenario, do we need splash screens at all? Can splash screens do more than just displaying copyright, license information, loading progress?

With applications increasingly becoming suggestive, it’s more appropriate to merge splash screens with the startup screens. Merging them can help user to decide the task s/he wants to perform in few seconds as well as display the information about the software. While the application is loading in the background, user can decide and click on the selected option (eg: decide to open a new template) and begin their tasks right away after the application has loaded.

The splash screen can also me made social wherein it can have the following:

  • RSS feeds
  • Link to social networking tools like facebook on what others are talking about the software or share a new technique or tips
  • Ratings on software's features
  • Appropriate links for collaborative work, where two persons can edit the file at the same time

Ideally, the splash screen can have the information as shown below:

Images of Photoshop splash screens:

Thanks to:

Danny Aldo, Vinay Dixit, Afshan Kirmani & Anshuman Singh for reviewing my draft work and providing relevant suggestions

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