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Should you build a single page website?

Single page websites have exploded in popularity but are they actually beneficial? In this post we discuss the pros and cons of this website layout.
Aug 19, 2020 • 6 minute read
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What you should know about single page website

While the widespread proliferation of single page websites does seem to have pushed multi-page sites to the sidelines, nevertheless, the battle for supremacy is far from over. But single page websites aren’t always the best option for your business and may just do your company more harm than good.
Sounds ominous? Well, don’t fret, for we’ve got you covered.
In this post, we’re going to give you the complete lowdown on single page websites, and tell you when and why you should be building them. After going through the following, you’ll have no trouble deciding whether your business should design a single page website, or stick with the classic multi-page, menu-based variety.

What are single page websites, exactly?

Without going into any of the technical nitty-gritty, a single page website is exactly as it sounds, a website that only has one page. In these websites, all the typical content of a sitemap i.e. the homepage, about and contact pages are merged into a single page template, which also includes all other content.
Unlike traditional websites that have a main menu from which users can navigate to other sections of the website, single page websites simply have different sections which the user must scroll through. Of course, using web technologies such as animated scrolling, this process can be made easier. 
Thousands of businesses as well as individual professionals are leaning into single page websites today. Let's take a look at their many advantages and disadvantages. We’re also going to figure out when to use them, and when not to.

The advantages of single page websites

Intuitive Usability

If there’s one thing no one can deny about single page websites, it’s their intuitive usability. These websites don’t require the user to navigate through complicated menus and site structures. Instead everything is organized in a single page, and all visitors have to do is scroll down the different sections.
This allows keeping the designs simple yet eye catching, and at the same time enhances user engagement. For websites that are selling a single product or service, or perhaps trying to deliver a message, this linear approach to web design can work wonders.

No page refreshes

One of the major disadvantages of multi page websites is the problem of page refreshes. Whenever a new HTTP request is sent for a web page, it takes a certain time for the page to load. This detracts from the user experience, and may even cause visitors to bounce.
Single page websites don’t have this problem. Here the different sections are either already present on the page, or dynamically loaded using AJAX technology. Hence the user experience is fluid, smooth and doesn’t distract the user.

Better responsiveness

One of the undeniable truths of the digital world is that it is going mobile, and most users today browse the web from mobile devices. This makes multi-page websites, with menus and complex navigations, a liability.
Single-page websites, on the other hand, excel when it comes to mobile responsiveness. These sites render much better on mobile browsers, are easily scrollable and load much faster. This provides a much better mobile experience for users who may not like to deal with multi-page websites on a small screen.

Enhanced page authority

Single page websites also offer better prospects in certain quarters when it comes to SEO. For example, links are one of the major determinants of website ranks and page authorities. As a rule, the more the links to a website the greater the ranking (though the relationship is not at all that straightforward).
In this respect, single page websites have a significant advantage. Since any and all links that are acquired to this site will always point to the main URL, this will always translate to a 1:1 ratio of links-to-pages. Needless to say, this means a better page and site authority.

Immersive User Experience

Though single page websites don’t have much scope for content they're very accommodating for a concise and linear narrative. 
This makes them perfect for delivering high-quality content rich in visual elements. The linear nature of the single page websites makes the content easier to consume. Plus, as users don’t have to navigate from one page to another, they get a better experience as compared to traditional menu-based websites. This also leads to better conversions.
These advantages are enough to make business owners jump towards setting up single page websites. However, we urge them to hold their horses, for now we need to take a peek at the disadvantages as well.

The disadvantages of single page websites

Risk of information overload

No matter how engaging you make a single page website, there’s always the risk that you overflow the bucket. Too much information and the users are bound to lose interest; too many images and the page won’t load quickly and impede your Google rank.
Plus, there are certain categories of websites, such as ecommerce websites and news websites, which don’t align with the single-page structure. These sites are inherently information rich, and, therefore,  must be split up into different categories to ensure proper focus on each piece of content. 

Low keyword targeting

The primary purpose of building a website is ranking on Google. And in order to do that, you need to target niche specific keywords that users are searching for. 
This is where single page websites fall significantly short. Since these websites are mostly focused on a single content topic, they don’t get the opportunity to target a large range of keywords that searchers may be using. 
There’s also the fact that when using a single page website, you can’t incorporate too many keywords, because it might be recognized as spam by the search algorithms. All this adds up to one thing: single page websites offer limited scope for keyword targeting, which can certainly affect the website’s search ranking ability.

Don’t allow extreme detailing

When it comes to content creation, the general rule of thumb is that longer content, i.e. content that is more detailed, performs better. This has given prominence to the practice of siloing, which involves taking a topic, breaking it down in extreme detail and creating content for each subtopic.
This helps to cover a subject in extreme detail and build authority in that niche. This inherently requires a website to be broken down into different pages. Hence this SEO opportunity is lost in the case of single page sites.

When should you use a single page website?

We’ve already taken a close look at the advantages of single page websites. From these, we can easily discern that single page websites should only be used when you need to tell a clear story to the users. The straightforward flow of these websites naturally lends itself to a narrative display style. This is perfect for the following situations:
Landing pages, where the prime focus is on converting the user. Here, limiting the website to a single page enables marketers to focus on the visitor. Plus, single page websites make A/B testing a cinch.
Portfolio websites, which are primarily meant to showcase a professional’s past work. In this case, a single page website is the best, as it removes distractions and allows the employer to focus on the work itself.
Web brochures, where images must have the prime importance. Single page websites help to accentuate the images and create a lasting impression on the user’s mind. Plus, they are also easy to set up. 

When shouldn’t you use a single page website?

For understanding when you should not use a single page website, just take a look at the disadvantages of these sites. Despite being great for some niches and purposes, they don’t exactly lend themselves to every business. The following are some of the many situations when single page websites just don’t fit the bill:
Ecommerce sites, as they have a huge number of products. Each product needs to be detailed to the consumer, and must be divided into different categories. What’s more, ecommerce websites need payment integration and several other features which cannot be covered in a single page website. Just imagine the entire deluge of Amazon’s product range on a single page! That’s the perfect recipe for online confusion.
Social networks, which are highly dependent on user analytics for success. Single page websites don’t lend themselves well to analytics functions, and hence are not suitable for social sites.
News channels, where news items must be categorized according to the users’ needs and requirements. Such an approach cannot be supported by single page websites. 

Are you ready to get a single page website designed for your business?

So, at the end of the day, it all boils down to this, single page websites are a great option for landing pages with a strong focus on speedy conversion. Multiple page website are a superior option for content heavy marketing strategies.
Hire an expert freelance web developer to craft a stunning single page website for your business today!
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