Telling a story with a one page website

Right now there is a paradigm shift happening in web design. It’s gaining traction, but it’s going to take the leadership of designers and developers some effort to nudge the rest of the web in the right direction. What direction is that?

The one where we finally free websites from the outdated conventions of print design and fully utilize the digital platform they’re built on. Where we kick archaic elements like pages to the curb and instead create unique, satisfying, web-native experiences.

With advances in technology from browser capability to broadband limitations, and of course HTML, CSS and JavaScript, vast improvement is now possible and is just waiting for us to make it happen.

Of course, we’ve talked about this before. The most recent example being in early May when we published a post calling on designers and developers everywhere to Stop Building Websites and Start Building Smart Sites.

It’s a wonderful philosophy-driven article that offers several compelling arguments for pageless design. In today’s post I’d like to continue that conversation and complement those arguments with an additional list of eight reasons why pageless design (and services like Impress) are the future of the web.

Think of this post as a series of talking points that you can use with your clients, boss, manager or other developers/designers. Something you can use to craft concise yet convincing two-minute pitches on why pageless design is a better direction for the web in general.

At the very least, I’d like to prompt you to ask yourself and others: Where are we now and how can we make it better?

Why Pageless Design is the Future of the Web

1. It uses story to compel visitors to action


Why do we have websites? To communicate with our current and future community. That community comes in the form of prospects, customers, enthusiasts and partners. In each case the goal is to accomplish a specific objective, something that almost always requires a specific action on the part of the user. How do we do that? By telling a story!

Stories quite simply provide the best vehicle for delivering messages that are not only heard and understood, but that inspire, motivate and elicit action. Furthermore, on the web we can (for the first time ever) free ourselves from the general constraints of traditional media and advance the art of storytelling. We can create captivating, immersive, interactive and emotional experiences that move people in more powerful ways than traditional media, or even traditional web design, ever could.

2. It’s seamless, intuitive and easy to digest


Today, when you land on the average website you are greeted with a few prominent trends: a large image slider, top or side navigation, a main body of text/images/icons and a sidebar with various links, images and CTAs. On many sites you are asked to hand over your name and email address immediately, even before you’ve had a chance to learn about the person, group or company whose site you’re visiting.

What a scattered, inelegant, blunt experience.

But, when you land on a pageless site you are immediately immersed in the opening lines of a great story. The ultra simplified design gets out of the visitors’ way and the story you’re trying to tell takes center stage for the entire journey through the site.

All that is left is the beginning of a well crafted story, where the only thing the visitor must do to progress is the most natural and intuitive thing on the web: scrolling.

This simple action makes for a seamless experience devoid of link hunting or any other type of point and click guesswork. And because this format forces the website owner to distill their vision into one page, the overall message is typically much clearer and more powerful than it otherwise would have been scattered between a home page, about page, mission page, sidebar, etc.

3. It’s viscerally and emotionally satisfying


With the advances in HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript we are able to weave interactive elements throughout our story to encourage, delight and win over our visitors on a “gut level,” which mere fact listing could never accomplish. Doors that open, boxes that flip and fold, buttons that chime or animate in creative ways — these are the types of “bubble wrap” interactions that provide satisfying texture and emotional context to the story we’re trying to tell.

When a design goes beyond merely looking good and actually feels good too, we are able to create addicting feedback loops that encourage specific actions “just for the fun of it.” When those enjoyable actions or micro-experiences (such as clicking a specific button) are built around our calls to action, conversion rates rise with user happiness.

4. It yields higher conversion rates


None of the above would be valid if they did not result in higher conversion rates. Sure, beauty, design and a good story are all great in and of themselves, but in the context of building websites there really is one metric that matters most: Conversion.

Every website we build should have a primary objective. To generate new leads, to grow your online community, to promote a person or product, to drive more downloads, to sell more goods and services.

These are the things that a single page website is best at. It’s simple, straightforward design combined with a great story and visceral interactions propel site visitors along a single path towards that final goal. It’s more focused than a standard website and more elegant than a mere landing page. The numbers have proved it works best again and again.

5. It makes iteration easier, faster and more effective


Not only does a pageless design convert better by default, but making changes based on analytics and user feedback is easier, faster and more effective. It’s easier and faster because there’s only one page to deal with. Instead of trying to weave a good user experience across multiple pages you’ve already crafted a concise and powerful one page story. Now all you have to do is tweak the specific details and interactions you’ve created in order to make them even more satisfying than they already are.

6. It decreases bounce rates and encourages sharing


Thanks in large part to everything I’ve already listed above, bounce rates tend to be lower on single page sites. This is because there’s very little to do or become confused about. It’s just the visitor, a good story and the primary objective for which that site was designed for. If the site’s story and flow are effective, the bounce rates are going to reflect that reality by enticing visitors to hang out longer.

Additionally, it’s hard to share an entire standard website with someone; the bulkiness of it forces visitors to manually zero in on what they like best and share just that bit with someone else. With landing pages it’s even worse. It’s distasteful to share a landing page with others because it’s obvious that you’re just after their money and/or information. But sharing a compelling story and a good experience, well those are things we do every day and they excite both us and those we’re sharing them with.

In this way pageless design offers a unique way to organically propel visitors (and those they share your site with) into an effective sales funnel they actually enjoy.

7. Pageless looks great on all devices


Pageless design creates a uniformity across platforms where users are already used to scrolling content, interactive elements and intuitive navigation. The apps on our smartphones and tablets are leaps and bounds ahead of current web design standards when it comes to creating memorable and enjoyable experiences.

This is mostly due to their unique limitations which encourage designers and developers to come up with new solutions that don’t lean as heavily on outdated conventions (like pages) but on new technological advancements. This results in new kinds of interactions native to a digital environment; swipe gestures, pop-out menus, use of gps information, gyroscope aided movements, animations, etc.

In many ways pageless design can do the same thing for the web by offering a simpler, more intuitive user experience full of delightful web-native interactions. This can be accomplished by utilizing a design concept we call Responsive +. This will not only ensure that your design adjusts in size to any device but that it feels right when viewed on any device.

8. It’s Affordable


Finally, we come to the crucial point: the price point. Traditionally, it’s been quite an expensive endeavor for both businesses and individuals to create beautiful, custom websites. Not just thousands of dollars, but tens of thousands of dollars. Thankfully, with a pageless website that’s no longer the case.

Particularly with services like Impress, a beautiful one page site can be delivered in just two weeks and at a price point just under $5,000. Something you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else when combined with the other benefits I’ve listed in this post.

With pageless design we might actually see, for the first time, the democratization of beautiful and effective web design. Making it possible for anyone who wants one to have a website that feels right, looks great and gets results.

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