They Are All The Rage - But Are They Right For You?
Life today is full of distractions. This is particularly so in the digital media world, where consumers have the attention span of a goldfish. Attracting your audience’s interest in the first place is hard enough. Focusing their minds on your content is even harder. So web designers and marketers are always looking for ways to simplify user experience. One page websites have emerged in recent years as a result of this quest.
What Is A One Page Website?
On conventional multi page websites, each menu item typically has its own dedicated page (e.g. Home, Services, About, Contact etc).
In contrast, one page websites have all the content contained on a single page. Each menu item has its own section on the page, and a click on a menu item will jump you down the page to the section concerned. Alternatively, you can scroll down the page to find the section you want.
The term “One Page” can be misleading however. While the home page is usually the “one page” that contains all the content, it is still possible to have other pages. For instance, the site could have a separate blog area with its own articles.
Why Have They Become Popular?
One page websites are relatively simple to construct and enable you to concentrate on your core content. They are particularly suited to single service “brochure” type sites and landing pages.
Some specific advantages are:
You Can get Your Main Message Across Quickly
People no longer read; they scan.
A one-page website helps you to merge all important information onto a single page. Content is easier to find and “scan” than when the same information is on several web pages.
A quick scroll down and you have all the relevant information you need.
You Have More Control Over The Way People View Your Content
With a multi-page website, visitors move from page to page. They consume only the kind of information they want, ignoring everything else.
This is not so with one page web sites. Here, you have the advantage of being able to control the order in which a searcher sees your content.
Visitors cannot jump from page to page. With careful planning, you can lead them to content with high conversion potential.
A One-page Design is More Mobile-Friendly than a Multi-page Design
User experience on mobile phones has improved dramatically since the introduction of responsive design. That said, accessing different pages on multi page sites can sometimes still be awkward.
Single page sites are a lot easier to navigate on a phone – you just keep scrolling. The experience is very much like navigating Facebook (a one page site), which most people find easy and enjoyable.
One Page Website Design Generally Requires Less Text
A multi page site with ten pages where each page has one paragraph will look like it needs more content. It gives the impression that the site doesn’t have a lot to say.
Ironically, the same content on a one-page website, where ten page sections take the place of ten pages, may actually make the site look quite authoritative. Writing a 300 word paragraph also usually
requires less time and effort than writing a 1000 word page. However the content still has to be of a high standard.
Single-page Sites Are Unique
People are more familiar with traditional multi-page sites. If the web designer has done a good job, when they see and interact with a one-page site it can be a new experience.
To be aesthetically pleasing, each page on a multi page site should take its colour and design cues from the nearest content. On a full screen site, this is usually the top menu. Consequently, no matter how well constructed, all pages can sometimes look a bit the same.
Sections on a one page site can give a designer more scope. Different coloured backgrounds, video backgrounds or different scrolling effects can be used for each section. There is also the opportunity to use many high quality images on the page. This adds further visual appeal.
Some Possible Downsides (And Their Solutions)
Despite the avantages of one page websites mentioned above, there are some drawbacks, although none are deal breakers.
Analysing website traffic with a tool such as Google Analytics is very useful. For multi page sites it can show you the pages people visit, as well as those they lose interest in.
With a one-page website design, this is not possible because visitors only have one page to visit. Therefore, identifying what content is generating results, and what content needs improvement is difficult.
You can overcome this by using various website heatmap tracking tools.
One Page Sites Take Longer To Load
When visitors land on a one page website, they have to wait for everything on the site to finish loading. This includes text, graphics, videos, and anything else that the site contains.
This can cause frustration and visitors may leave the site. Sites with longer loading times may also suffer when it comes to Google rankings.
Designers can solve this problem by using lazy loading. This way users don’t have to wait until the entire page loads. It loads as they scroll down the page.
Content Sharing Is Difficult
With the rise of social media, sharing content across platforms has become popular.
If people see something interesting, they tend to share the link on their social profiles. One page websites make content sharing difficult because there is only one URL to share.
If someone shares content from a one page site, they share the entire website – not just the intended section or content.
A way round this is to run a separate blog with posts full of interesting content. You can opt for a one page design just for the homepage and maintain multiple posts on your blog.
While there are some disadvantages to one page websites, there are many good reasons to consider using them.
They are easy to construct and use, very mobile-friendly and visually appealing. They are particularly suitable for landing pages or small business “brochure” sites with one main message. The cost of a one page site is also generally less than a multi page site.
We can help you decide whether a one page site is right for you, as we did for Broadway Dry Cleaners.
Get in touch at any time, we’re always available!
Michael is the founder and principal of Media Dreams, and is a former partner in a public accounting practice. He has a working lifetime of advising small business owners and has owned several himself.