Sometimes, One Page is Enough

On designing websites for small organisations, treating clients well, and applying thought.

My aim as a web generalist is to put real thought into every website I create.

As such, I try never to adopt a short sighted “pay per page” model for any job I take on. But in some cases, it’s hard to decide exactly what to provide, and for what price.

Take this scenario for example: A small, local organisation (perhaps a charity) has contacted you. They’d like a website so that their members can find out about events, and so that newcomers can find out how to join/get involved.

(Here I am assuming that you’ve sat down with them and determined exactly what the purpose of the website will be. If you haven’t, be Ashamed. Be very ashamed.)

What do you do? Do you: A. Say “I’m sorry, we only make web apps/business/corporate/large sites”. B. Take the work, and hand-code them a fairly average site with several pages, a contact form, etc, and charge them a fair sum. C. Take the work, charging them through the roof for a CMS that they’ll never use.

If you answered A, consider why. Surely you have an intern or work experience student who can put them together a little website? Or perhaps you know a freelancer you can point the work toward (hint hint :) ).

If you answered C, shame on you! Especially if the potential client is a charity. Whilst we have to make money, charging them for something they don’t need is just plain greedy. In this case it applies to a CMS (to an extent even one like Perch) but could apply to other ‘features’ too.

In my opinion and experience, B is close but no cigar. Odds are it won’t take you long and therefore won’t cost either of you too much (unless the client is particularly picky about the design), but is it really the optimum solution? I don’t think so.

Preeee-senting: the one page website!

I believe that, in many cases, everything a small organisation needs in their web presence can be presented on a single page. This has numerous advantages, as I’ll demonstrate, but first some background and an example.

Here I’ll show you an example of a website I created recently, when I found myself in the very situation described above. The client was a local wildlife society with very few funds, run by a friend of mine. The spec:

  • Should have a brief description of the organisation
  • Contact details
  • An editable listing of upcoming events
  • Information for people interested in joining.

I came up with the following: If you can’t be bothered to click the link, it’s a three column layout containing an intro spanning the three cols, then contact info, upcoming events and info about joining each have their own column.

Please Note

This website was built before I knew about (let alone implemented) real adaptive/responsive design. As such, it resizes poorly. I may well remedy this in the future. For now, do as I do, not as I did :).

The Advantages

What’s so good about this anyway? Easy:

  • Reduces page load times through… lack of pages. This makes for improved user experience, and is more friendly to mobile users.
  • Reduced amount of time coding – needs no navigation, for example (another mobile problem solved!)

What about the fold?!

Far more important is responsive/adaptive design (I.E. web design done right). This can actually be more of a challenge with a one pager than with a more average website due to a higher concentration of content, but it’s still fairly easy to implement.

The solution? Design for mobile first, then work your way up from there.

In Conclusion

I am not advocating that we should all re-write all client’s websites into single page entities. Like everything, it’s not always the most suitable path of action.

But the important thing is that in the process of choosing/dismissing it for any particular site, you applied thought to a part of the project that may otherwise have gone neglected, hampering the poor client with something they really don’t want or need.