The single page website design became very trendy a few years ago. Like most adolescents going through style phases trying to find their identity, web design has taken a few twists and turns over the years. One of the more recent cultures that is still debated is single page website design versus multi-page websites. There are still some websites that utilize a single page design and do it well, but will this method work for everyone? Let’s discuss…
Mobile Trends Must Dictate
We harp on mobile responsiveness a lot these days, but it’s because it is vitally important in this modern age. The millennial crowd makes up the large majority of those using mobile devices like smart phones and tablets to access the internet, exclusively. Since 2014 Americans used smartphones and tablets more than their desktops to read email and access the Internet. This trend will only continue to grow as smart phones get… well, smarter! The first thing any good web designer must consider is, how will this website translate to smart phone users?
The website diagram on the left shows how the typical 3 page website would function. Each of the 3 navigation buttons take you to 3 separate pages with content that fills the screen on a desktop. If we take that same amount of content and stack them together into a single page website design, you can see how long of a page that makes in the sample on the right. Even on a desktop browser this will require massive scrolling to get to any information at the bottom of the page. For mobile users this single stacked page gets about twice as long because the information is condensed into an even narrower screen: 480 pixels wide to be specific!
Long story short, it’s important to cater to the mobile user because they represent a HUGE percentage of your viewership. If you insist on using a single page design, make sure you have opportunities for readers to be converted, with calls to action sprinkled throughout, rather than just one link at the bottom of the page. If a mobile user hits your page, there’s a good chance they won’t reach the very bottom of the page.
We can’t just banish the single page website entirely, though. There have been A/B tests that confirmed a single page layout can improve conversion rates. For commercial websites, stacking all your content into one page is a gamble unless the visual effect of the website is incredibly well executed. While not impossible to achieve, it’s definitely a challenge.
When should you build a 1-page website?
There are examples where the single page website layouts work well. A lot of photographers and designers like the one page layout, and if you aren’t relying on organic growth from search engines, it’s not a bad route to go. One cool concept is a wedding style design, where use of a scrolling story board is used to narrate the story. Check out this fun site:
Here is a sample of another single page design that still utilized a static navigation bar at the top but scrolling still navigates through the whole site. The reason this one works is because it’s not too long; they kept content short and sweet. It is also very visually stimulating with great artwork throughout. Overall this flow and single page site works.
SEO for single page websites
One of the major problems of the growing trend of SPWs (single page websites) has been it’s lacking ability to score well for search engine optimization. When you pile all of your content into one page, you are essentially limiting how effective the content can be searched. Google will have no problem crawling a single page with all of your content, BUT you will most definitely have a more concise website overall to make it function properly on mobile devices. An SPW will limit your keyword usage, have no internal links, a long page load time, only one set of meta data, and likely fewer external links.
Google has made changes on what factors carry more weight in your overall SEO score, but these things are all still crucially important if you want to be on the 1st page the major search engines.
Keywords: the occurrence of keywords and phrases in your content is a major contributor to good SEO and when you only have one page of content, you are limiting the ability to increase the keyword density.
Meta Data: SPWs only have a home page, so they only have one page with meta data. While meta data is decreasing in overall SEO score, it is still a key component. When you have multiple pages on a website, you have the ability to make unique meta data for each page to target different search terms.
Links: With all your content on one page you will likely end up with fewer external links, because you would be pointing viewers away from your site and be taking up valuable real estate where you could be explaining your own products or services. Since the website is all on one page, you also have fewer internal links pointing to content. SEO does take the number of links and what the title of those links are, in relation to your keywords and their relevance. Having no internal links is a heavily weight factor for SEO.
Should you build a 1-page website?
Just about everything in life has a compromise. There are benefits to making a trendy SPW, but there are inherent draw backs. Depending on what the purpose of your website is will determine how you want to display your content. We aren’t bashing any design choices but it is important to weigh all the factors that can make or break your online success. We would encourage you to do your research. If you have questions along the way, we are always ready to discuss your options.
Do you already have a 1-page website, or are you considering building one? If you do choose the single page web design route, we’d like to steer you in the right direction. If you have a question or comment, leave us a message below to start a dialogue.