When people think about creating a web page, they are often intimidated by the idea of trying to fill out multiple pages with stunning content. As a result, they stagnate on the idea and end up not moving forward at all. But the truth is that a website doesn’t have to be a multipage stunner in order to be impressive.
In reality, there are many cases where a website doesn’t even have to been more than one page in order to accomplish its purpose.
There is a industry trend towards utilizing single page or “pageless” sites. One of the main ideas behind this is moving away from sites that are designed for large monitors and towards sites designed for the small screen - mobile phones and tablets. The 30-somethings and below do the majority of web browsing on their phones or tablets - so why are designing for large monitors and making them reactive to the small screen?
What is a single page website? Simply put, it is a site where all the content resides on a single page, usually in a long-scrolling layout. This design forgoes extensive “About Us” pages, detailed “Team” pages and condenses things like robustly explained services to more concise lists. The goal is to present information in a clean manner, steering visitors and allowing them to make quick decisions.
We’ll briefly explore this concept and showcase some industries and scenarios that truly benefit from pageless design.
Benefits of going pageless
Price. This is usually a main driver as to why budget conscious owners stray away from professional website design services. It’s a common practice to either charge by the page (more pages = more work = higher fees) which makes financial sense to the web developer, but it can force the customer to trim down their desired website in meet their budget. With pageless design, however, you can achieve more in less space - which saves time in development and in turn costs less in general.
Where the average templated site costs around $5000 to have developed and fully custom WordPress sites average $20,000 - a single page site usually costs less than $1000 industry wide and averages less than $500, depending on the case.
Action. If someone tells you that you have 30 seconds to pitch an idea versus having to fill five minutes, you are likely to be much more animated and move your audience to action with every sentence. The same is true of single page sites. They capture the audience’s attention quickly with inspired visual design and move them to act immediately: We’ve got your attention, now come see us to experience more.
In instances where you are calling visitors to act on the page itself in order to generate leads, grow a virtual community, drive downloads, purchase items, etc studies have shown up to 30% greater conversion rates from pageless design. Companies such as MailChimp capitalize on this with their campaign pages - you have a single page that tells you about what you are going to receive when you provide your contact information. Retailers use the same idea when sending you specials or features via email with a “Buy Now” button at the bottom - which takes you to a single page designed to move the sales process forward.
Satisfaction. Have you ever visited a multi-page site and felt like you have to click through several pages in order to find what you are looking for? Not a very fulfilling experience for today’s instant gratification society. The very nature of pageless design eliminates this as there is a very limited number of things to actually click on - if they exist at all! The information you want your visitors to see is played out on a single page, your story told quickly in both type and visuals. It’s seamless, which makes it feel intuitive, which leads to a feeling of it being easy to use and emotionally satisfying.
Sharing. Pageless sites get shared more often, as it is easier to pass along to others. There’s no need to try to link to a subpage, hope it converts right, etc - you share the site and the information is immediately available, no need to track it down. Single page sites translate integrate amazingly well into social media as their main message displays instantly.
Design. With virtually unlimited bandwidth and increased monitor sizes, web design has moved towards large, bulky websites loaded with video, java script and moving graphics. These designs are then forced into a reactive mode in order to be viewed effectively on mobile networks and devices. Single page sites, with professional design, shift the paradigm from the big screen to the small one. Design it to be stunning and effective on a small screen with the ability to scale up to the large one.
Storytelling. Single page sites are the short stories of the web world. The designer strives to completely tell the tale in a single, concise environment with the goal of either leaving the visitor inspired to visit your location to continue the experience or act by the end of it to fulfill their visitation experience. Visitors are spared the complex learning curves and long attention spans required to navigate more complex sites - just like a reader being able to consume a story in a single sitting rather than having to continually find the time to return to a tale.
CHALLENGES of Pageless design
SEO. While there is quite a bit of discussion on Search Engine Optimization and pageless design, it is hard to argue that search engines are designed to consume content. There has been much development on keyword optimization in regards to advanced techniques for single page SEO and as pageless design becomes more prevalent search engines respond. This is also less of a concern if you are in a industry or category where visitor behavior can easily be anticipated as well.
e-Commerce. Single page designs struggle to accommodate e-commerce functionality if the catalog grows beyond a dozen or so products. This can be overcome, to some extent, by having dynamic content within the single page where the visitor sees either featured products or categories and then the subset of available products are showcased on the main page.
Scalability. This is both a challenge and a benefit to single page design. While you can easily grow from a single page site to a hybrid multi-page (a series of single page sites linked through header indexes) it can be a cultural shift for a organization to move from pageless design and the image associated with it to multi-page design. Alternatively, they are agile and easy to iteratively design and release - allowing you to focus your marketing effort as your organization grows.
Who uses SIngle Page sites?
Single page sites have grown in popularity and are quite often seen being used to showcase weddings, personal sites, events, and professional resume sites. Developers and site owners, however, are moving towards pageless design for industries such as coffee shops, photography/videography, PR firms, web developers, authors, boutiques, real estate and others.
Below are some of our favorite sites which use pageless design, some of which might surprise you:
100 Years of National Parks Service: http://www.100yearsofnps.com/
Bavette La Boucherie: https://bavettelaboucherie.com/
Timepal (hybrid): https://timepal-app.com/
Upstate Laundromat: https://www.upstatelaundromat.com/
Raleigh Bicycle, Centros: https://www.raleigh.co.uk/centros/
Selling The Land: https://sellingtheland.com/
Art & History Museum: https://www.artandhistory.museum/
Irby’s Tavern: https://www.irbystavern.com/
The hybrid Site
As the industry pendulum swings back and forth between slick and streamlined single page site and highly functional multipage sites, a alternative has developed as well: the hybrid site.
What is a hybrid site? It’s the solution for those who are looking for the clean design of single page site with the functionality and depth of a more traditional multipage design. They are designed to start with either a single page with clickable links to additional content or function as a series of connected single page sites.
One key advantage that hybrid sites bring is scalability, as a pageless site can grow into a hybrid site easily and then transition to a multipage site when (and if) the organization is ready. From a cost perspective, the investment can be made over time and can be managed. You can start with a inexpensive single page site and add on as time and need dictates. Hybrid sites also allow the site owner to more easily react to changes in technology and consumer trends with simple redesigns or additions rather than annual redesigns often required to keep multipage sites up-to-date.
Which one is best for you? That depends on your goals, budget, culture, offering and image. If you’d like to chat about single page, hybrid and multipage websites - drop us a line. We’ll help you figure out which framework suits you best and determine if we can help you with your project.