Popularity of single page websites have grown tremendously over the past 3 years. More and more of my clients are now asking me about single page websites because it’s the trend. Heck, the percentage of single page website templates and themes on WordPress is ever growing as well.
Before we even start going into details of the comparison between single page and full websites, let’s first get the terminologies straight.
Single page websites, as the name suggests, are one-page websites that aim to reduce the noise (or distractions if you will) from the important information. They are usually a lot simpler in design, have the bare minimum information to keep the site relevant, and may not have additional information such as company profile and services.
“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.” – Albert Einstein
Full websites are multi-page websites that hold enough information for you to find out what you need to know about the company and its services. As there is significantly a lot more information, it is usually separated by pages. Common pages include “about”, “products and services”, and “contact”. Full websites aim to provide visitors enough to form expectations and generate trust.
“More information is always better than less. When people know the reason things are happening, they can adjust their expectations and react accordingly.” – Simon Sinek
Now, to the decision making process. Which type of website should I use for my business? As always, I strongly suggest forming a sound strategy first, with the help of the points covered below.
UX on Mobile
Web searches done through mobile have already surpassed that of searches done through desktop computers in 2015, and it’s not going to drop significantly anytime soon. Mobile experience is just something businesses cannot ignore anymore.
Due to the nature of smaller screen sizes on mobile devices, reading and tapping on the screen is just a worse experience than on a bigger screen. This gives the minimal navigating on a single page site an advantage, and coupled with fewer content than a full website, makes single page sites a winner for mobile experience. This can arguably be balanced out with Google’s AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), but more of that another time.
SEO – Keywords
One of the most common topics of SEO is keyword targeting. Web pages are ranked by search engines like Google based on search terms. The better your keyword targeting, the better chances you get to reach your target audience.
As single page sites are very focused on a main topic, keyword targeting is somewhat limited to that topic as well. This means that you will not be able to rank your site for a wide range of keywords. This may not necessarily be a bad thing, depending on your target audience.
Full websites, on the other hand, are better for keyword targeting since they generally have a lot more content to use for marketing. For example, each page on the website can target different keywords, leading to reaching a different group of your target audience for each page.
SEO – Page Authority
Inbound links are a big factor in SEO. A higher number of inbound links to your website tells search engines that you are an authority on the particular subject, hence ranking you higher up in search engine result pages (SERPs).
As single page websites only have one URL for inbound links to point to, every inbound link will point to the same URL, which increases its page authority. As full websites have multiple pages, inbound links may point to any page within the site, hence not achieving a stronger cumulative page authority.
When a web page is shared on social media or any other medium, the share is defaulted to page-level instead of content-section-level. This means that if someone shares a web page with you on Facebook, clicking it will load the page, from the top (or start).
Now think about single page websites. If I open a link shared on Facebook and it loads the page from the top, I’m forced to go through the site from top-down, without knowing when will I get to the part which I’m interested in. This may frustrate users and cause a higher bounce rate for your website.
Full websites are unlikely to have this same problem as content is separated into specific pages. Each page is usually not too long, so if I open a link and I land on the “About” page of a website, it’s likely that I will quickly find the information I’m interested in.
Targeting Specific Audience
Single page websites are far easier to target a specific audience. With single page sites, you have full control over the specific user experience you wish to obtain. For example, user reading behaviour on a single page site follows a linear pattern. Once you structure your content in the right order, your site visitor will almost certainly go through your content in that same order.
The same cannot be said about full websites. A site visitor will click on any link on the navigation menu, and this may not be the desired flow of content intended by you.
Loading time of a webpage is important to user experience, and thus affects SEO too. As single page sites are generally longer than a page on a full website, they tend to load slower and may turn site visitors away quickly. However, this hugely depends on the amount and size of media on site. Heavy images and videos will obviously cause your site to load slower.
So now that you have some points to consider, how do you make a decision? Well, it all boils down to your content objectives. Think hard about what content your target audience is really interested in. Plan how you want your target audience to use your site, and create the perfect experience for your site visitors.
Don’t think SEO-first, think content-first! It’s true that single page sites may not be great for SEO, but if your content works best in a single page format, then you may not need to focus on SEO, but target specific audience instead.