The Pros and Cons of Single Page Websites – Updated
When you’re in the initial planning stages of a brand new web design, it’s crucial that you decide on the site structure. Your two options are the traditional multi-page website or the single page alternative. Multiple page websites have long been considered the norm, with content being divided into separate pages.
In complete opposition, the single page website is quite literally what it says on the tin. It’s just one long web page. These types of websites have massively increased in popularity over the last few years and we’ve been seeing more of them around the world wide web.
This could be because users are yearning for simplicity, they want to be able to find things they need, and fast. Seems great, right? However, there are pros and cons of single page websites, so we’ve listed them out for you… now aren’t we kind!
The pros of a single page website
A single page website isn’t jam-packed with information. Content has been divided out into it’s own individual sections with clear headings and separators. This gives the user more time to absorb what is on the page and retain information whilst they’re reading. At the same time as this, they’re less likely to become distracted, less navigation steps = less chance of leaving.
The main purpose of your web design should be the engage your visitors and communicate effectively your marketing messages. One page websites are fantastic for doing just that. As we’ve already mentioned, you need to design a single page website so that it’s not cluttered and big blocks of text are broken up.
The content on your website should be telling a story, with a clear beginning (e.g. how your product or service came about), a middle (a problem or concern that your user has) and a conclusion (how your product or service is going to help solve the user’s dilemma).
In terms of visuals, single page website designs are much easier on the eye. Each section with it’s own unique content gives you the ability to include different forms of rich media and movement which helps to keep your audience engaged. Single page websites are generally quite pretty to look at as text is minimised, so it’s a great chance to get super creative with your website and branding.
Single page websites are designed so that all the user has to do is keep scrolling until they reach the bottom of the page. There is no need for them to keep clicking different links to find the information that they need. This is an important element of web design as a single page website works well responsively.
As of December 2016, 51% of Internet users utilise a mobile device to view websites. In 2018, it’s predicted that 80% of all Internet usage will be done on a handheld device, so it’s important for web designers to take this into account when they’re building a single page website.
Ease of use
These websites are much easier for visitors to use, as they won’t get lost in multiple pages. The continuous scrolling suits normal web users’ behaviour (as frequently used websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram all use scrolling) so the habit transfers to other places on the web.
This also helps with your search engine rankings too. One of the main aspects of web design that search engines such as Google look for is a well thought out user journey. This means that it’s important that you take into account UX UI web design whilst the site is being built. You can find out more about UX UI web design in this blog post we’ve written previously.
Cons of a single page website
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Now this is the big con – SEO is key to driving traffic to your website, and it is usually done by optimising different pages with different keywords. Having just one page for your website means any SEO you implement will be almost pointless (in my opinion).
You’ll really struggle to optimise just one page with multiple keywords as there won’t be much content. There will also be minimal space for SEO coding too (title, meta, alt tag etc) as the whole website is on a single URL. This means low rankings and less traffic. There are ways round this, but they’re not always straightforward.
Page size and load time
Single page websites often include animation or movement that help to keep the user engaged and sometimes this level of interaction can have a negative impact on the load time of your site. We all know how quickly users expect a website to load, but if it takes ages to load on a mobile device, chances are they’re going to leave. This ultimately leads to a higher bounce rate, which is bad from an SEO point of view.
Harder to create
Creating a single page website can be difficult depending on what functionality you want. If you need to have lots of information, making it look good will be hard but the actual technicalities behind it can be even harder. At the same time as this, there aren’t as many single page websites that you can use for inspiration.
Remember that some people will be using older browsers, have a slow internet connection or dated computers. This means that one page websites can take a long time to load, and users may give up and go elsewhere. Also, some older browsers won’t show single page websites properly and may disable some of your important elements.
Difficult to edit
If your business is constantly changing and you need your site to be updated regularly, having a single page website isn’t for you. Elements are very specifically placed on single pages so being able to alter and change content isn’t as easy as it is on multi page sites.
Less insight from Google Analytics
As we’ve already mentioned, SEO is the bread of any web design project, but with a single page website it’s particularly hard for Google Analytics to give you in-depth information about which content your users have interacted with most. The only useful information that you’ll be able to see from the analytics is how many site visits you’ve had and how long they’ve stayed on the site for.
One page websites do look great and are very modern, but they are far more suited to a one off project or perhaps a portfolio site. However, if you want to optimise your website and to be found in search engines (getting more traffic AND sales) then consider having a multiple page website – they can be beautiful and modern too!
What do you think? Have you ever considered a single page website for your business? What elements of the design do you think would put you off, and what do you think would convince you it’s the best option? We’d love to hear your thoughts, so let us know in the comments below.