Where Have All the Pages Gone? What You Need to Know About Single Page Websites

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Ross Beyeler
Ross Beyeler



Notepad Page on ClotheslineWe've seen an emerging web design trend is the use of 'Single Page Websites'. These websites are typified by features such as: a long, single page of content; having the main navigation drive visitors down the page, as opposed to other pages; dynamically loading content as the visitor scrolls the website. We've even adopted a Single Page concept for Growth Spark's website.


What are the Positives of Using a Single Page Website?

1. Inherently Mobile-Ready

For years, web design best practices obsessed around the concept of having content 'above the fold' (the portion of the website you see before scrolling). However, the emergence of so many device types and sizes has largely rendered the idea of 'the fold' obsolete. Mobile users embrace the fact that they'll have to scroll. The overall design strategy behind a Single Page website is to structure content in a way that's best consumed by scrolling and, therefore, can be easily viewed on all mobile devices.


2. Clear, Linear Navigation

Consolidating your content to a single page works particularly well when companies build a linear 'narrative' behind the design of their websites. Customers respond more positively to story-driven content than to the typical features / benefits copy often found on corporate websites. Dive deep into the idea of Narrative-Driven Design in our follow up article.


3. Concise, Effective Content

Single Page Website design relies heavily on concise, well-crafted content. A successful website uses clear language, supported by graphics and video, to deliver specific messaging. In turn, this allows customers to consume information rapidly (aiding their already eroding attention spans) and helps them make decisions around your products/services more quickly.


What are the Drawbacks of Using a Single Page Website?

1. Not Great for SEO

Although the tactics of Search Engine Optimization are constantly evolving, one of the fundamental elements search engines weigh in their algorithm is content - in quantity, uniqueness and optimization. Consolidating a multi-page website into a Single Page Website naturally reduces the volume of content and the uniqueness of each page. This can often be challenging for companies with a heavy reliance on SEO-based marketing strategies. However, I'll explain later how this can be addressed using a Single Page Website strategy.


2. Forces Brevity

One thing most web designers don't want you to know is that traditional multi-page site design is much easier to create than a Single Page Website. With a multi-page site, you need a variety of flexible templates where you can 'drop' content in as it’s developed. This means your web designer can skip the 'content strategy' component of their design and just provide 'shells' for you to build out yourself. With a Single Page Website, the design is heavily reliant upon the right content used in the right place and, therefore, adds a new challenge for your web designer.


3. Inflexible

Given their reliance on more advanced frontend development (such as jQuery) and carefully-crafted content, Single Page Websites often don't have the same flexibility as a traditional multi-page website. Although you can power a single-page website with a content management system such as WordPress, they're inherently less flexible given the intricacies of their design.


The Take-Away on Single Page Websites

single page diagram

We've found success with Narrative-Driven Design, which is particularly well-suited for the Single Page Website strategy. That being said, we understand that it can be quite difficult to cram everything about your business onto a single page, especially for companies with a strong focus on thought leadership, technical support documentation and content-driven marketing campaigns. As such, we like to perceive structuring your website in the following manner:

We've found that you can use the Single Page Website concept very effectively as your central story / 'navigational tree' behind a multi-page website. Having the ability to 'support' your core story with blog posts, landing pages and technical documentation allows you to paint a complete picture around your offering and drive your customers to purchase.

Topics: Website Design

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