The Beauty of One Page Designs

Back in the early 90s when companies were beginning to jump on the web and create websites for themselves, many times people scoffed at the idea of having just a brochure site. These were the sites that were one page of information and nothing else. People believed you needed to have multiple pages on the site to easily breakdown all of the information that you want to present. However, over the past year one page designs have been making a comeback and for a good reason.

With so much competition on the web it can be difficult to even get people to come to your site and when they do often times they might not get the message you are trying to tell them because it is locked behind 3 pages of links. You are usually only given one chance to make an impression and sale so why bother with creating an elaborate site just to sell one product? Of course the idea of cramming a ton of information on one page will drive any designer crazy, but isn't that what upper-management try to do already?

The sites that 37signals have created for their online applications are not one page, but the homepages for each essentially server as one page designs. They give you the information that is needed and make sure to get their message across without you having to dig for it. Because of just one page you have the information needed to make decision whether to dig deeper or leave. Usually you have to figure out where the link is to the page that will answer the question that you have that will help you make that decision.

Another great example of the one page design paradigm can be seen on any Apple product page. For example, the Macbook page does a great job of showcasing the product and filling you in with tidbits of information. You leave the page feeling like you have a better idea of what the product is and what its capabilities are.

The key to this type of design is being able to throw out most of the information that you would usually try to include on a site and simply get right to the point. This is not easy when management feels they need to include the 100 page company manual on the site, but people value their time and they could be spending it better on another site if you wish to overwhelm them.

If your company currently has a site have a look at it and see if a one page design for certain products and services would be more fitting than a muli-page design. Keep in mind that users prefer to scroll rather than click on links and wait for pages to load. Also know that one page designs aren't meant for everything, but if you can pull it off you will notice the rewards immediately.

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  • Kim

    There are several risk assoicated with this type of web design.

    first - a homepage that is sooooooooo generic that you don't know what the company does. Indeed often it appears that it does everything including the laundry and the mowing.

    Second, from an email I sent to

    2 things I dislike intensely about your web site –

    1. NO CONTACT information – I want to reach out and talk to some and I can’t! No support, no sales, nothing that I can find easily!. A year ago when I was researching collaboration tools, you were excluded on the basis of this for a medium size company of about 500 users and $500 million in revenue. I am working on a new proposal and your name came up again and you are about to be excluded again for the same reason!

    2. I wanted to cut and paste your front page to include it in an email to some other team members to generate some interest to get the first requirement waived. AND I can’t?????!!! Indeed I could not easily find anything that reflected who you are to stick in an email. What is that about??? There comes a point when being soooooo protective of the information on your website is self-defeating. It is not likes someone who really wanted to could not recreate your page. All you have done, is taken away the ability of those of us who want to easily pass information to someone else. It is not like I am going to take the time to re-type your message. Don't make me work hard to pass YOUR message on.

    You have a good message and I liked the product then and I probably would like it more now.

    The first items cost you at least one opportunity and may cost you again especially combined with the second.

  • Brian J King

    While I agree to a certain extent as one page designs and simplicity and eliminates the issues with overly complicating and obtrusive information it often leaves the consumer really wondering "What" or "how" to get the product, service, etc.

  • 27amDotCom

    Those who use direct response marketing techniques will be quick to also add that the one-page setup achieves something more important than just a simplified layout: sales.

    Giving the webpage guest too many options of where to click and where to look doesn't specifically drive them to the showcased product or the sales page ... the more you can cut back on the fancy graphics and redundant text, the more you'll increase the profitability of the webpage.

    Rob Toth

  • Divva

    Word of warning.... one page web designs tend to be penalized HEAVILY by Google, so use with caution if you expect to drive traffic by using Google Adwords.

  • Matt Donovan

    I couldn't agree more!

    One page designs (and even simplified 2 or 3 page designs) are what people want.

    The service my company makes (TXT Signal) uses a 1-page approach to convey it's "marketing message" and it has been very effective.

    The key to 1-page sites is really about having a product or service that offers value to the viewer.

    The "steak" has to be right there in front of the viewer. A little sizzle is nice, but too many sites have gone so far overboard on the sizzle that it becomes difficult to find the steak.

    If the viewer has a problem (X) and you have a valuable solution (Y), then the 1-page should make this connection pretty easy. The proverbial "light bulbs" should go off before the viewer has to scroll.

    Which brings up an important and oft-overlooked point: scrolling mouse (mice?).

    With scrolling mouse use becoming very pervasive, it's so easy to use the scroll wheel to navigate a page.

    In prehistoric days (aka 2000), it was additional "effort" to target the scroll bar (or the top or bottom scroll buttons) with your cursor/pointer, move the mouse, click the bar, hold the click, and then scroll down.

    That's both mental and physical "capital" that the viewer had to spend to scroll. It's just not necessary anymore.

    So, the 1-page approach is smart because it acknowledges the evolution of the viewer's habits and the tools they use for viewing.

    Anyway, excellent post and excellent point.

  • Web Design Minneapolis

    Wow, very interesting! We run a web design company and the shortest website length we have ever done was 3 pages, and that is actually pretty short! We'll keep an eye out for this resurgence though, thanks!!