One screen divided in two.

The split screen technique has long been known in the film industry, with early examples dating back to the silent movies days of the early 20th century, and it is still a popular device in by film and tv today.

A split-screen layout is in use when full-screen elements are divided into two or more vertical parts. A scene from the film “Scott Pilgrim vs the World”

However, this is a relatively new technique for the web design industry. Split screens only became popular around mid-2016 and now we have more and more websites which use this design pattern. There are a few reasons why this design pattern became so popular:

  • It has a nice aesthetic quality. When executed correctly it can offer users a wonderful viewing experience.
  • It’s a good choice for responsive frameworks. Split-screen design can be adapted for a variety of screens, even small ones. When it comes to smaller screens, such as mobile displays, the panels can be stacked.
  • It helps guide navigation. Using simple design techniques, you can draw the user’s attention to a specific part of the screen or encourage them to click.

WHEN SPLIT SCREEN WORKS THE BEST

Split-screen is especially good when you have two things to promote. For example, when a site offers two entirely opposite variations. This approach allows designers to give prominence to both things and allow the user to quickly select between them.

One screen, two messages in Dropbox Guides

WHEN YOU SHOULD AVOID SPLIT SCREEN

Split-screen designs don’t expand well as the content grows, therefore it is not recommended to apply them to content-heavy layouts. It’s important to keep the screens simple because complex split screens make the UI look overloaded with information. Therefore, they won’t do much good if you have a lot of content to display. That’s why split-screen layout would be a perfect fit for minimalist website designs. After all, the whole technique’s purpose is to create a simple look that is easy to perceive. When you overload the design with unnecessary information, you completely erase the benefits of split-screen layouts all together.

HOW TO DECIDE IF SPLIT SCREEN IS GOOD FOR YOU

If you’re considering a split-screen technique for your website, I advise you to ask yourself a few questions:

  • Is it suitable for your content?
  • Will there be enough negative space to make the layout work?
  • Will your users appreciate the layout or it will confuse them?
  • Will it be OK to split your users’ attention in half?

The most important thing to keep in mind that content is king and split-screen should be a simple way to deliver your message to people.

Therefore, the main advantages of split-screen layouts are to provide clarity and simplicity, by restricting the split-screen component comprehensive. This is easy to achieve when you know your goals and have a clear message to showcase. Thus, by following your special program, you can navigate users through the website without the danger to confuse or lose them.

Landing pages are a good example of split screen advantages. Split-screens are most commonly used for creating effective and stylish landing pages, which are incredibly useful for marketing purposes. This technique is great when it comes to controlling the visitor’s focus, and targeting it to specific components. This is also very helpful for improving the overall user experience. For instance, you can place some themed products on one side, while the other will depict their main features, or provide comparisons, etc.

DESIGN TECHNIQUES FOR SPLIT-SCREENS

Before moving on to the design, there are a few key points for proper technique implementation, such as:

  • Always scaling viewable content to different sizes and densities, in order to have a compatible design with mobile devices.
  • Adopting primary control to a new mode; for example, in a split design, make a menu instead of navigation bars.
  • Keeping UI adopted to a new layout. For instance, if there is a video displaying on one of two sections in a landscape mode, it should remain only in its half, even if the user rotates the device to a portrait mode.

DESIGN TECHNIQUES FOR SPLIT SCREENS

1. PAIR VIBRANT COLOR AND DRAMATIC TYPOGRAPHY

Thanks to Flat and Material Design, vibrant colors and dramatic typography are big trends now. Vibrant colors are visually stimulating and dramatic typography enhances the text content. Simply combine the two and you will create a visually interesting design. Baesman has done this masterfully. They gave equal importance to both elements while, at the same time, allowing the user to choose between them quickly.

Bright colors and interesting typography pairs can add interest

2. DRAW USER ATTENTION TO THE CTA BUTTON

Much more than a simple graphic trend, splitting the screen into two distinct parts provides an original way to guide the user through your site. It’s a great option when you want to create a bigger focal point for calls to action. The benefit from such layout is that you can have visual impact on one side, while also having interactive elements on the other. Such techniques help to increase the clicks through animation and different side effects. The result: you have more active and engaged visitors. In the example below, you can see how negative space creates a vertical divide to give equal weighting to two different options.

Vertical divide allows emphasis on two different CTAs without favoring either

3. CREATE VISUAL FLOW BETWEEN “SCREENS”

When split screen represents a single object, it’s important to establish a connection between content containers. One possible way to do that is by using a color. Simply duplicate a distinct color to establish visual flow between two screens. This works particularly well with a brand color or hue with a lot of contrast. Using color it’s possible to communicate a stronger connection between two pieces of content.

Another possible way to create a strong connection is layering a single element such as text copy across screens:

Overlapping text connects two screens

Last but not least you can use a colored overlay for this purpose:

Consider the left part of the screens

4. USE ANIMATION TO ENCOURAGE USERS TO ACT

Fine animation and interactive effects encourage users to click. Look at the design used for the “Chekhov is Alive” site below. The design begs you to click to find your character.

Also…

Use a Static Sidebar layout

Nowadays, due to HD quality and 4k, one of the popular split-screen examples is a layout with the static sidebar and a quite bright image in the background. What’s great about this option is the compatibility with smaller screen sizes, where the sidebar turns into a header. Therefore, it not only has this modern and fresh look, but can also be quite functional.

Provide a Choice

One of the most traditional ways to design split-screen layouts is to provide  visitors with two options to choose from. This pattern can create a clear separation of two sections with different information you would like to highlight, while a brand feature — a logo, for instance — will connect those sections together.

Magazine layout

This heading speaks for itself. Such design imitates the look of a print magazine. Here, a visitor will see text in a large title on the right side, with images and multi columns on the left. Surprisingly, such contrasts create a nice overall balance and give the site a professional and posh look.

Gallery

This is a “half by half” scrolling effect that creates the impression of a stack of cards, which opens up to a user as he or she proceeds further into the site. While a user scrolls down, the images keeps lining up with each other.

Splitting slider

This design offers an interesting transitional effect that splits the images, as if you are watching a slide show. The split-screen starts to happen only when a visitor begins to scroll down, having imagines slowly queuing one after another. This guarantees a very smooth and beautiful transition.

CONCLUSION

It takes approximately three seconds for a visitor to make a decision regarding your website. Consequently, your layouts should always be visitor-friendly if you want to reduce bounce rates. Split-screen technique can help you with that. Split-screen designs are a fun, functional, and responsive way to create an engaging design.