The pros and cons of single page websites

Slick, visually appealing and innovative we are big fans of one page websites when they are done right. One Page Love has a fantastic collection of great examples on one page design. But is it right for your business? We look at the pros and cons of one page websites.

Pros

Controlling the flow of information

All websites want to take a user on a journey. While you can control the site architecture of multi-page websites, you cannot prevent the user flicking back and forth between pages and possibly missing important information or parts of the journey in the process.

With single page websites, you have more control over what the user sees and when.

Greater opportunities for engagement

Audiences get bored by big blocks of text and even videos can be easily clicked away from.  This is why scrolling one page websites have become popular with organisations with a story to tell. Take for example http://www.dangersoffracking.com. The scrolling creates the movement, effectively animating the website, which offers more engagement and interaction than simply pressing play or reading reams of text.

A truly immersive experience

With many multi page website you will often get a beautifully designed homepage and then find the internal pages are bland and boring. With a one page website, strong, consistent and engaging design is used throughout, making for a more immersive and interesting web experience.

Less steps between customer and conversion

Research carried out into one page check out vs. multi page checkout revealed a 21.8% improvement on conversions. Taking customers to different pages means having to reload the website, which can be time consuming and result in a loss of conversions. Having everything on run page makes it as easy as possible for visitors to become customers.

Suits user behaviour more effectively

Traditional schools of thought recommend having as much information as possible above the fold and advise against long pages and scrolling. Today, user habits have changed. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest encourage scrolling. Screens are bigger. The web is more image driven than ever before. It's even harder to keep visitors interested and attentive. Single page websites allow designers to create striking and immersive experiences which more effectively suit modern user behaviours.


Cons

SEO

Having lots of content on one page can be beneficial for SEO. Having one page also means all links point to that page, increasing the likelihood of having a high page rank and domain authority. But the negatives outweigh the positives. It is hard to optimise a single page for more than one keyword. With so much content on one page, covering different areas, it can be hard to effectively optimise for even one keyword. You have no keyword rich internal anchor text links, only one title tag, one meta description and only one URL. Single page websites are very large and can load slowly - something that can also be detrimental to SEO.

Hard to get site architecture right

While there are tried and tested methods of creating great site architecture for multi page websites, single page websites can be difficult to get right. Information segmentation is important and it can easily become confusing on a single page.

Less insight into what's working

Google Analytics provides essential insight into what is working on your website and what isn't; what information is more popular, what content causes people to leave, what pages aren't getting much attention at all. Beyond the number of visitors and the duration of their visit, their isn't much insight analytics can offer on one page websites.

Creatively taxing

Having to display lots of information on one page presents more creative challenges than the multi page layout. There is lots more to consider and much more information to wrangle. It can be difficult to display it in an interesting way.

Difficult to update

While great for brochure type websites, features like news and a blog feed don't really work on one page websites. If you want to regularly add new content to your website this isn't the right type of website for you?

So what's it to be?

One page websites are a fantastic choice for brochure type websites, one-off campaigns and portfolios. But they are a radical departure from traditional websites and they may not be suitable for larger sites that cover a variety of subjects and categories.

If you aren't sure whether to make the one page plunge or not, why not try experimenting with one page characteristics? Longer, image driven pages and new technologies like Parallax scrolling are great ways of creating interactive and immersive pages without having to radically overhaul your approach.