One page websites are popular these days. Web design trends come and go, but this streamlined option seems to be popular with businesses that offer a single product or service, like apps or consulting services. Website expert Steve Benjamins explains why and summarizes both the benefits and drawbacks of single page web design.
Advantages of one-page website design
It takes about 50 milliseconds (that’s 0.05 seconds) for users to form an opinion about your website. That opinion determines whether they like your site or not, and whether they’ll stay or leave.
The one-page website has a long history, but in the past few years it has really come of age. What was once a cost-effective promotional microsite or ‘Coming soon’ page has now become a de-facto work of art, as well as a powerful marketing weapon.
Brands of all shapes and sizes have created stunning single page sites from from Air Greenland and construction services company Tirrena Scavi, to crypto-startup BitLocation. The messages and visuals may vary, but the power of single page web design shines through.
So what are the benefits?
Simply put, one page site design comes into its own as soon as you have a distilled, single purpose in mind for the user. That could be a single action, including product purchase or service registration while delivering singular and concise information (e.g., a launch countdown timer).
Content that is placed front and center commands attention and thus maximizes the chances of delivering high conversion rates. You can easily control the flow of information, since visitors are required to browse information in a linear fashion, instead of navigating traditional website menus and breadcrumbs. When you strip away extraneous design cues it leads to an uncluttered look and feel. But single page web design also means the design needs to work harder–there’s literally nowhere to hide!
This also allows you the rare gift of narrative. You’re taking your reader on a journey, which is often the strategy behind a branded site. However, in this case this narrative-based brand strategy that is reinforced. Horizontal background changes can visibly divide and delineate information as users scroll, enabling easy, logical transitions between one topic to the next.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, one-page web design is a brilliant format for mobile-first websites on phones and tablets. It offers linear scrolling engagement, rather than forcing users to hunt around the edges for hidden navigational artifacts.
Disadvantages of one-page web design
Wait, but are there disadvantages?
Absolutely. Most obviously in the use case–if you have a complex, multi-message site, then sticking all of your content on one page isn’t going to work. In fact, most of the major disadvantages of one-page websites are similarly practical.
Load times are also a significant issue, since the temptation to create an image-heavy infinite scroll page is considerable all those images really stack up.
Another important consideration for one-page website design is SEO. While it may be good for mobile and from a UX point of view it has to work very hard to reduce page load times–a key SEO metric. In addition, the variety of key terms a single page can rank for is restricted, as opposed to a traditional site, where each page can be optimized to target relevant and desirable keywords.
Measuring KPIs for one-page site designs
If you’re used to using Google Analytics or similar tools to track website engagement you might be in for a disappointment. A one-page site will require that you work harder to pinpoint user journeys while on-site.
To address this, you can use heatmap tools, scrollmaps, A/B testing and recordings. You can also track shares or views of specific content (e.g. images and video). If social engagement is a key metric, then it’s worth considering how one page sites can make sharing specific content difficult. So you’ll need to plan what is shareable, and how, before building your site to ensure KPIs are met.
Overall, one page websites offer plenty of benefits which explains their popularity. There are also a host of simple website templates online, so go test and enjoy!
Steve Benjamins is a serial entrepreneur and has been designing and coding websites for the last 20 years. Most notable are sitebuilderreport.com, aguidetowebsitebuilders.com and Gift Ideas That Don’t Suck. Alongside running these websites, he also works as a consultant for companies who are doing investment research in the website builder space. Over the last four years, he has written over 100 in-depth reviews of website builders— which, at over 100,000 words, is the size of a big book. In that time Site Builder Report has grown quickly. Today over 60,000 people every month use his resources to choose a website builder. Connect with @stevebenjamins on Twitter.