Websites have come a long, long way from the first “World Wide Web” page of 25 years ago. It seems almost incredible what a difference this quarter of the century has made from the first text-only web page to the current complex websites which include animations, audio and video elements, interactive and augmented reality graphics, as well as third-party integrations.
The Evolution of Web Design Principles
Throughout the long and complex history of web programming and web design, fashions have come and gone. Once the mobile technology made wireless internet possible and smartphones became capable to handle internet traffic, further changes were brought to websites, starting with the responsive web design principle and ending with today’s debate: should your website be a static single page or have multiple pages?
If we are to look at the current trends, single-page websites seem to be ruling the internet world. The option for this type of design was influenced by several factors, one of the main ones being that people use smartphones more frequently than computers to browse the internet. It is a question of convenience, having a website which does not require tapping on multiple menu tabs in order to access information.
And it is also more cost efficient for companies than designing a complex, multiple pages websites. Plus, with the rising popularity of mobile apps, which concentrate all their main functionality in one screen, single-page websites emulate them and provide a valid alternative to developing an app (which is definitely more expensive than building a single-page website).
What Makes Single-Page Websites So Popular?
1. A Distraction-Free Structure
Besides the two arguments already discussed in the paragraphs above, building a one-page website makes sense from more points of view. In eliminating buttons and tabs, you eliminate distractions. The viewer does not have any other element for focusing their attention than on the page itself. This in turns leads to two more benefits, detailed below.
2. Smaller Bounce Rates
Single-page websites are, by definition, cleaner and simpler in overall look and design. One of the main reasons for high bounce rates is the fact that the viewer gets confused when they reach a feature-laden page with lots of menus, links, graphics and animation. By contrast, single-page websites tell a unified story in a simple and direct manner and give the viewer from the very beginning the answer to their number one question: “what is this website about?”.
3. Higher Conversion Rates
A study conducted by Signal v. Noise indicated that single-page landing pages have a 37.5% higher conversion rate compared to the same landing page split in multiple pages. The study found that people are much more likely to scroll down until they reach the end of a complex opt-in form, than to click (or tap) from page to page. On another note, this study also helps dispel the UX myth that people do not like to scroll down under the fold.
4. It Is Organic, Esthetic, Easy to Read
A single-page website is like a book where you do not have to turn the pages and the lecture is unbroken by annoying but necessary interruptions. Plus, it keeps users engaged and willing to read more. Look at how social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are structured. They are basically single-page structures (the web version), where people keep scrolling down and find new stories to capture and maintain their interest.
5. It Is the Ideal Way of Telling a Story
The main scope of websites is still to tell a story – whether the story of a person, of a product, or of a company. As things are, graphically and textually speaking, it is much more natural to build this story, with an introduction, contents and the end, and fit it into a single page. The simplicity of design and high usability encourages people to keep reading without having to stop and wonder what they need to do to get to the next part of the story.
Why Would You Opt for a Single-Page Website?
After all these reasons, there is still something to be said about the advisability of choosing a single-page website. If you plan to create a microsite (as it becomes increasingly popular among small and large companies) to promote an event or a product, it is more time and cost efficient to build it as a single-page website.
What you really need is a website which presents the information in a pleasant and coherent manner, is easy to browse on any device and has a fair price compared to the benefits it brings your organization.