When the site is visited, or the application started, present these
entry points as "doors" into the main content of the site or
application. From these starting points, guide the user gently
and unambiguously into the application until he has enough
context to continue by himself.
Collectively, these entry points should cover most reasons why
anyone would be there. There might be only one or two entry
points, or many; it dependsn on what fits your design. But you
should phrase them with language first-time users can understand
-- this is not the place for application-specific tool names.
Visually, you should show these entry points with emphasis
proportional to their importance. In the example above, for
instance, ING Direct clearly wants to point people toward their
current special savings account; they put it front-and-center,
in bold lettering and colors, surrounded by whitespace. The
three other tasks (probably used more frequently by most customers)
are rendered in a group, each with equal visual weight. The most
commonly used entry point, "View my account," is at the top.
On a page like this, most sites list other navigation links --
visible only to those actually looking for them. They're more
specialized; they don't lead you directly into the heart of the
site, no more than a garage door leads you directly into the living
room of a home.
(Splash screens, by the way, are not a manifestation of Clear Entry
Points, since they don't present a decision point to the user. They
merely pass the captive user along from one screen to another. Other
than being a progress indicator while something is loading, or a
demonstration of a designer's prowess, they add no value.)