The single-page website is a current trend offered with web design services and has become a common option in WordPress theme templates and in web development. Single-page websites are often used for simplicity, efficiency in both UX and development, however they have both obvious and hidden limitations that we will cover.
With everyone looking to offer simple clean UX for their visitors, it seems this design will be around for a while. But here’s the real question – is it right for your business needs?
What is a Single-Page Website?
Single-page designs offer the user less work when browsing a website by presenting all the information on a single URL, reducing the users need to navigate a site to find content. You can see an example that we created here.
Traditional websites, also known as multi-page websites, require the user to navigate between pages within the site, utilizing a URL architecture to organize content into content silos or folders and sub-folders. In a single-page web design, the user will find all the site content on one page, whereas with traditional design, the information is organized across multiple pages.
Now, with the distinction between single-page and multi-page websites covered, let’s take a dive into how the benefits and limitations may impact your design decisions.
Benefits Of Single-Page Site Design
With a multi-page website, a developer or designer has to be very intentional with how they create site navigation and architecture. While it can be more challenging for a designer and developer to create an experience of what they want the user to do, being deliberate when structuring a sitemap, especially with multi-page websites are very important for usability and SEO requirements. On the other hand, a one-page web design gives a developer freedom to be more creative in getting the user to interact with the website.
Remember when the big deal was to have everything you could possibly imagine above the fold? Well, it’s not such a big deal anymore since many users have grown accustomed to continuously scrolling. We see so many more websites utilizing “infinite scrolling” in order to keep information coming – similar to the engagement of scrolling through a Twitter timeline.
Continuous scrolling not only increases the chances of users staying on a website longer bit it also allows website owners to get various types of content in front of their users easily. Web developers can take the user on a journey by telling an intentional story as the user continues to find more content throughout the single-page design. This allows designers to psychologically set the user up and implement calls to action that occur at the strongest “moment of impact.”
For the website owner of a one-page site, the cost to develop can be minimal compared to the cost of a multi-page site. Any website can require larger budgets if complex custom development is needed, but if kept fairly simple, a one-page design can keep costs down. Website owners can go this route if they do not have the funds to devote to massive website development since web design and development hours are usually lower for one-page websites.
Users have been noted to stay on single-page websites longer than they do on multi-page websites. This is mostly due to the reduced navigation and the amount of content available in one place. This tends to lead to higher conversion rates whether you are collecting user information or turning users into customers. Basecamp proved this theory to be true by conducting a study on single-page conversions using the A/B testing method. They found that landing pages, a form of the single-page web design led to 37.5% more signups than a multi-page website. Again, many of the sites included in this test were conversion focused landing pages with stripped navigation, a conversion rate optimization best practice.
It has also been noted that one-page web design is great for users, when on their mobile devices. Users can scroll down the entire website with ease and find all the information they need by only using their thumb to guide them. One of Google’s big usability factors for mobile is reducing hard to click or small links, which won’t be as prevalent with single-page sites.
Drawbacks Of Single-Page Site Design
Content on a page is what drives your SEO. Optimizing a one-page website effectively and ranking for a range of keywords is not likely and there are many resources that explain that. Content architecture is what allows your SEO team to target a wide range of topics and keywords. The ability to create content around a wide variety of topics and content that supports with depth of information is essential to your SEO.
Additionally, having separate pages allows your SEO team to vary title tags, meta descriptions, URL’s and to create references using internal links. Having a large number of high quality pages in your sitemap allows you to increase your indexed pages and create content that acquires specifically targeted external links, developing the much coveted domain authority. All of these benefits are lost with a one page site design. Blogs and multiple product pages work for SEO. Having the ability to get your keywords or keyword phrases in multiple places throughout the website gives SEO a boost and thus making your site more of an authority within your industry.
Because users are looking for an easy and simple experience it may seem that one-page design is great for E-commerce. Users want to find the right product and pay you. That’s simple, right? In multi-page E-commerce sites, you can create fantastic category pages, product pages, blog resources and offer a great customer experience with multi-page sites built in platforms like wordpress using woocommerce or in Shopify. If you are selling more than one product, you will be severely limited in with a one page site.
The most popular analytics tool is Google Analytics. This tool provides the website owner an awareness of what is working and what is not by tracking the user’s journey on the website. A one-page design doesn’t give us this insight since the objective with a one-page website is to get the user to continue to scroll. The most tracking reports available would be number of site visitors and the length time the user spent on the site.
Deeper analysis into user behavior, flow and exits can help your digital marketing team to determine pinpoint areas of opportunity and high exit pages to direct your future work. Additionally it provides opportunities to create sales funnels within the site that move users closer to a sale with a purpose.
A one-page web design has its pros and cons. They are simple and easy to use. The costs to develop a one-page website is low but comes with some pitfalls. SEO may not be as robust as it could be and lends itself to a lack of content depth and architecture. However, a clever developer or designer can create a one page site that may work very well as a landing page for paid campaigns or other purposes such as an App or lead gen page where organic traffic is not as much of a concern.
Technology and people are ever changing and that means websites need to be ready for those changes. A one-page web design could be what you need or it may not be enough for you. What matters depends on the needs of the website (content and usage) and how they support the needs of your business. Lead from there and you are well on your way to making the right choice.
If you are wondering what the best type of site for your business is, contact us at Chase Design and talk with us about all of the factors in a free design consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!