Single page websites are among the most practical and popular web trends, predominantly appreciated by owners looking for speed and simplicity.
Besides, single page sites are very responsive, and display equally well on all types of devices, but whether you will use them or not will still depend on the needs of your website. If offering fast food products, for instance, you may require more than a single page for users to browse quickly and make orders online.
Deciding between single page and multipage templates can nevertheless turn into a game of chance. Website owners happen to under/overestimate the needs of their business, and end up adding unnecessary materials on useful content’s behalf, especially when not in the position to implement stakeholders’ feedback. Another common trick web owners fall for is avoiding large and complex websites to save time, and sacrifice in such way must-have sections, content, and submenus.
There is no rule of thumb applicable to answer this question, but experts are firmly convinced that websites design should be driven by the urge to improve users’ experience. In brief, there are few basic questions applicable to every website:
- How much information are you going to post for your users (and does it involve entertaining and interactive content)?
- How will the website’s hierarchy look (which are the main elements)?
- Will content be really accessible to every user?
- How will the content benefit the users?
The overall conception is that users find single page websites more comfortable and easier to use, but that doesn’t exclude the possibility that they will like a comprehensive multipage website created by an experienced UX designers.
The advantages of single page websites
The competitive edge of all single page sites is their clean and simple design and the fact they display information in a comprehensive and operable manner.
What this means is that users are provided with an intuitive, linear experience, where the beginning, middle, and end are clearly distinguished. Besides, scrolling is by far the natural environment of mobile users who are accustomed to this way of browsing content.
As expected, navigation becomes more straightforward, and there is usually a single action expected from the visitor (buying a product, subscribing to a service, and so on).
Web storytellers have an even easier task, as all they are required to do is to make their visual narrative interesting and engaging for users. With single page websites, there are no endless links to click or page that could confuse readers – everything there is to the website is displayed on a single page.
They are simple – When you offer a visitor all he needs on a single page, he will certainly appreciate it. There are nothing visitors like more than being speared complex navigations and steep learning curves, in particular when exploring content from a mobile device.
They display natively on mobile screens – It is easier for single page websites to adapt to mobile technology, as there is no need to specifically adjust their design or functionalities. In most cases, they look absolutely the same displayed on desktop computers, smartphones or tablets.
They improve conversion rates – Your conversion rates don’t really matter – single page websites can help with sign-ups, email subscriptions, newsletters, and much more. Once you’ve assembled all phases of the conversion funnel on a single page, customers won’t give subscribing a second thought.
The disadvantages of single page websites
Being completely honest, single page websites can’t collate the more than basic information. Content there must be selected with care, displayed in clear visual hierarchy, and made striking visible for the user not to miss important information. See more what content your audience would like to interact upon.
It may seem enough for simple sites and startup websites, but one mustn’t neglect the possibility to grow and increase the number of offered categories. Once content goes over the fence, it will be extremely difficult to manage it from single-page websites, and odds are huge visitors will miss most of it.
This is why there are many more single page website SEO techniques that should be considered to make the site work, and in the ideal scenario – load in normal time frames.
Single page website owners must make their content as relevant as possible so that search engines would easily match it to visitors’ queries. Unless they’ve deliberately limited their SEO strategy to primary keywords, single page site owners are losing the relevancy subpages and sub-topics could earn by themselves.
Obviously, a super streamlined one-page website may work for companies offering a single product/service, but that won’t make it suitable for any complex provider. Once that page starts looking overwhelmed with information, it might be the right time to substitute it with a different layout.
They are not scalable – Scalability is probably the biggest issue troubling single page owners, as they have no possibility to create and attach content as they would have with a full-fledged blog. Eventually, they’ll need a full redesign of their website in order to restyle and improve their navigation.
They are not that SEO friendly – regardless of what you’ve been told, search engines fall for content, and there is little outside it that can convince them to consider you. The other problem is that assembling content on a single page may mess up important keywords, in the result of which you may lose some of your ratings from a website that has more to offer.
They don’t make it possible to share a specific piece of content – With single page websites, all you have at disposal is a single link to share on social media. Theoretically, there is a way to share specific sections with implemented buttons on-site, but the question is whether t makes sense to invest so much effort for each post.
They make data more difficult to analyze – With one-page websites, performance becomes much more difficult to analyze, including simple conversions and page visits that actually expose best practices. Multipage websites, on the other hand, will inform you immediately on why visitors are leaving, and help reduce bounce rates much faster.
The target audience for multipage website designs is usually larger businesses with many services/products, which prefer offering more interaction opportunities for their visitors. The common guidelines for each multipage website are as follows:
- They are usually very large and complex, as the content requires it.
- Their UI is intricate and way deeper than the one of single page websites
- Often, they combine a number of subsections or even micro-websites where information is divided into several entry points
- They are SEO-friendlier because they contain more pages and update content on regular basis.
What multipage site owners should always keep in mind is that the variety of pages they offer doesn’t mean the main page should be simple and dull.
On the opposite, they should try to make it as stunning and easy to navigate as possible, even if that incorporates long scrolling and creative effects. Check more about the importance of the landing page!
Regardless of single page websites being perceived as more practical, bloggers are still recommended to work with multiple layouts so that they will be able to display all of their content.
Advantages of multipage websites
With users known to rely on traditional navigation, multipage websites shift all the way from desirable to absolutely necessary.
For the interested user, they will serve as a visual map on how to complete the desired actions, including locating your product, subscribing to your newsletter, or paying for your service. In case they’re not able to do this easily, they will most probably leave your website and look for a more effective one.
Multipage websites are also the ones that rank the highest on search engines, because they use a variety of keywords, and are able to optimize those per page.
Disadvantages of multipage websites
While it is true that traditional navigation leads to more conversions, adding too much content on your multipage website may hamper this concept. With several entry points in place, the user may be confused and find it difficult to return to the page he was on before.
Regardless of the theme, you’ve chosen, there are several generalized considerations you must take into account:
Content matters the most. Once you’ve targeted your audience, try to figure out what could be interesting to them, and adjust the interface to their needs. This will help you determine whether you need a single page or a multi-page website, or even lead you to consider hybrid options. Wherever multiple categories are involved, multipage websites are the must-have ones.
SEO should always be on top of your priority list. The possibility to run a well optimized single page website is not excluded, but search engines generally prefer fresh and robust content.
In fact, SEO can handle and even appreciate plenty of content humbled on one page, as all linking points are listed there, and the owner has full domain authority. See what we have to say about SEO strategies in 2017.
Nevertheless, there are more downsides you must keep in mind: Single pages won’t allow you to use all keywords that could optimize your content, while the single URL eliminates the chance for you to use richer internal anchor text links, tags, and Meta descriptions.
Eventually, collating all information on a single page may cause longer loading times, and put an end to your SEO career before it has even started.
Less is more. Regardless of whether you’ve used a single page or a multi-page template, consistency will please users, and allow them to reuse the same components on each page. In order to facilitate navigation for them, try to replicate colors, behaviors, and shapes.
Be clear with what you can offer. In the online world, where users can’t really meet you and evaluate your products, it is critical delivering a clear first impression and confirm your website is worth of consideration. Making people click on tenths of layers to arrive at the desired link won’t help you do this.
Hybrid websites – Are they the best the market can offer?
Luckily, there is a solution for indecisive users who love the clean looks of single page websites but wouldn’t give up the functionality of multipage ones either.
The truth is, you can still make both styles work for you, and that’s by utilizing a single-page template for the homepage and redirecting users to the conversion funnel from there. It may take some time to design separate FAQ pages, info blogs, and contact data sections, but the effort will be totally worth it (traffic from different sections is easily driven to the homepage).
Besides, hybrid websites are the smartest option for skipping at least some of the redesign and technology updates other sites would require, as they already offer a variety of ways for users to consume content.