When the desire to be trendy overpowers the need to fulfill user goals, your design is in serious trouble.
Let’s dissect single page vs. multi-page web UI design so you can make the best design decision.
Web design trends like single page sites are not a bad thing. The trend is fueled by a very justified quest for simplicity and speed. Simple one-page sites are also great for responsive design, serving all devices equally. Of course, sometimes a site absolutely needs more pages: for example, fast food sites like Chipotle includes many pages for quick menu browsing.
Photo credit: Chipotle
Adding extraneous materials or ignoring necessary content is an easy hole to fall into, especially with all the stakeholder feedback flying around.
So is it harder to design a compelling UI and UX for single-page sites, or more complex sites? Both – or neither?
A Few Quick Considerations
Large websites are certainly challenging due to the complexities of multiple sections, submenus and ever-changing content. Of course, single-page sites can be just as difficult since you must boil down all the content of a larger site without confusing the user.
Photo credit: 10 Best Practices for SketchApp
When designing the user experience, consider these basic requirements that apply to any website:
- How much are you offering to users? (information, product(s), and/or entertainment)
- What are the most important elements in the hierarchy of the site?
- How are you going to make this as easy as possible on the user?
- How are you going to make this enjoyable/informative for the user?
Single-page sites help keep the user in one, comfortable web space.
As with any website, if all of the content fits on one page, then why add more? Sometimes even the minimal amount of content needs to be spread among several pages. A great UX and UI designer will know the right size for a website. Here’s the pros and cons you will find with single-page websites.
The immediate benefits of a single-page website is the content is presented in simple, easy and workable fashion for the user.
Single page sites immerse the user in a simple linear experience. There’s a clear beginning, middle, and end. In fact, the scrolling nature of single-page sites makes them well suited for mobile users who are accustomed to the gesture.
Photo credit: Sleeping Tapes from Squarespace
Some experts argue that single page websites even have higher conversion rates as compared to larger, multi-page websites. 37signals did a study of single-page conversions and found that a single long landing page leads to 37.5 percent more signups, compared to a multiple page version.
One-page navigation, of course, is more straightforward than a larger site for sites which serve a single purpose. That purpose might be selling one product or offering one service, for instance. If your goal is to tell a story, then single-page sites are also a natural choice for visual narratives.
Photo credit: Frames Collection
The benefit of a single-page website is simple – scrolling is easier and more continuous than clicking endless links. If a user begins to scroll, then you may find them more likely to keep scrolling than to stop and click a link.
The biggest danger is falling into the trap of stuffing “10 pounds of stuff into a 5 pound bag.” Single page websites just can’t hold life, the universe and everything. As described in the free e-book Web UI Best Practices, they require careful visual hierarchy and plenty of discipline.
As your categories of content increases (e.g. blogs, news, services, products), the more a single page site becomes less feasible. From a more technical standpoint, single-page sites are also less search optimized than multi-page sites. With tons of content and images on one page, they can also load slower.
Photo credit: UXPin
Search engine algorithms, of course, seek relevancy – they match queries with content. While a single page site may improve relevancy for your primary keywords, it’s more likely it will dilute relevancy for sub-topics and terms that might rank better, or at all, on their own pages.
Defining content sections and using anchor links is the suggested method for increasing single-page SEO. Using H1 tags is also highly advised. As an H1 signals that what follows is distinct and separate from the rest of the page, it’s a good way assure SEO of a single-page site. (Use only one h2 per section of your single-page site).