Scrolling Web Design: Pros & Cons of Single Page Websites

Jun 13th, 2018 Design, SEO, Trends

A growing trend in mobile first web design is a single page or scrolling web design. That is, one page that contains all of the content for an entire site. What once was a design sin has made a resurgence in popularity as mobile usage overtakes desktop. For small businesses or businesses trying to establish a digital foothold, a single page scrolling design is an affordable and practical first step. Let's look at some of the upsides and a few of the concerns.


Pro: Usability

The most positive effect of single page design is the ease of use.

You don't need to worry about over-complicating navigation if there is none. Scrolling is a natural interaction with websites for most users. It doesn't have a learning-curve like menus can when a designer tries to get cute or the navigation itself is just very extensive. It's been proven time and again that people don't mind scrolling. That doesn't mean the order of information isn't important, however. Your most important content still needs to be near the top, but you can compare the distance someone will scroll with how many pages they will click into your website when everything is vertical.

Pro: Controlling the Narrative

Single page design lets you easily control how your users experience your website.

They encounter all of your content in the order you want them to. This works particularly well when your business model, is itself, a linear path. For example, a service based industry that has a discovery phase then an implementation phase. The discovery gives the solution context and meaning. Showcasing your service becomes much easier when your users understand why you're doing what you're doing. With a more traditional page-based design the user may jump around on your site without knowing they're missing key information.

Pro: Mobile Friendly

The less you have to do to get the information you need the better mobile experience you're going to have.

Finding and interacting with site navigation on a phone can often time be difficult if not impossible, especially if the site itself is not mobile optimized. A single page site is inherently mobile optimized from a functionality perspective because there's simply less required of a user to get the information they need. Lastly, as we mentioned above, the scrolling motion itself is just easier than trying to tap in a specific region. A user can scroll from any position on the screen, whereas with navigation and links you need to worry about how far a user can stretch to the furthest spot.

Con: Disorientation

Where am I?

One worry for a scrolling design, especially for longer sites, is leaving the user disoriented about where they are on the page. Returning to a specific place is more difficult than going to the navigation and getting back to a page. Because the page flows together and may not have distinguishable sections the user will have to remember how far they've scrolled from where they want to go back to. These concerns can be overcome with easily recognizable breaks in content.

Con: SEO

One of the most glaring drawbacks to single page design is your ability to maximize your SEO efforts.

It can be difficult to hit all of your desired keywords in just one page without reading like a spam-generated mess. Page titles, meta descriptions, content, images, etc are much more straightforward when your site can be separated accordingly. That said, your page authority for the site may be higher because you will always have a 1:1 ratio of links to pages because all traffic will go to the homepage.

The Verdict

Like anything you do with your marketing and web design efforts, you need to identify your target audience and goals. If your goal is getting found through search then single page design probably isn't the best solution. If social media is your focus then a single landing page designed website would work perfectly. For example, our focus at Kicks Digital is getting found in search. We're active on social media and put a lot of effort into it, but the site itself is better suited for a multi-page web layout. We have targeted social media campaigns to drive traffic to specific services we provide. Both approaches are viable, and we take special care during discovery meetings to suggest the best path for each of our clients. If you'd like to found out more, contact us.

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