There has been long-standing debate in the web design industry over whether users scroll or not. The “above-the-fold” mantra has been hammered into the brains of designers by old-fashioned thinkers wanting to spring a sales pitch on site visitors from the get go. But we’re here to say that the days of being concerned with the fold are over! The game has changed. The single-page website revolution is here!
The whole concept of “the fold” in marketing is very dated, simply because it started with a medium and that has seen its revenues and relevance steadily decreasing since the early 2000s: newspapers. When newspapers were displayed at stands, they were often folded, with only the top half of the front page visible to potential customers. Hoping to draw their eyes and entice readers to pick up the paper, the editors would put the most important headlines, stories, and photos on this top half (or “above the fold” in the paper). Advertisers, in turn, would also seek to have their ads placed on this most coveted of spaces in order to reach the largest audience first.
The concern was that readers would spend the most time only looking at this top section above the fold. As they had to unfold the paper to read down further, their interest would wane, and advertisements would have less reach. Thus, the concept of above the fold marketing was born. This same concern with keeping the most important marketing content (aka the call to action) above the fold also permeated the web design world. “Scrolling” became a dirty word with designers, and a horde of sites were designed with a prominent sales pitch as the first thing a visitor would see.
Single Page Sites
While only placing the most important content “above the fold” may have been a valid concern in the era of print, we are now in the digital age. Websites provide a much more dynamic and interactive medium that isn’t restricted by the shortcomings of print. Because of this, the whole approach of the user experience and creating a Call to Action has been re-thought. The idea now is to tell a story—playing a little hard to get, instead of giving it up on the first date, so to speak.
With a single-page site, you have a more engaging and narrative approach. Instead of forcing users to click around the site to look for important material, you provide them a clear path to digest the content sequentially—ultimately leading them to the call to action. Think of it like a librarian guiding you to the exact book you’re looking for, instead of having to rummage through card catalogs on your own (shout out to the Dewey Decimal System!).
The whole idea of the single-page site is to take the user on a journey with quality content that motivates them to take action as the scroll down to the CTA. This leads to more qualified and more quality conversions.
Mobile and touch screen navigation for multi-page sites can often be cumbersome. Clicking links and using the old pinch and zoom to find what you’re looking for can frustrate users pretty quickly. When built responsively, single-page sites can also offer mobile and touch screen users a more intuitive navigation experience. Users can simply swipe through the content, giving it a more natural feel with the device.
We recently launched this fantastic new site for VoomaGo, a company that provides curated global travel experiences on a local level. We utilized a single-page site to present the content as an adventure, much like the services that VoomaGo offers. We found that almost 90% of site visitors viewed the “Experience” section halfway down the page. Of those users, 70% scrolled to the section, while the other 30% used the top navigation.
There’s no need to create a 10-page site for something that can be communicated with one. With the Timbers, we were creating an attractive site for spacious luxury apartments in West Vancouver. A single-page site proved to be the perfect method for conveying the level of design elegance and simplicity that these properties evoke.
Gravitate Case Studies
With our own site, we utilized the single-page approach for our case studies. They provided the perfect way for us to convey each project as story. From the initial meeting, to logo creation, to local marketing, and finally to the site launch, we can clearly present our process with each client. Users are able to easily navigate through the content sequentially without missing a step along the way.
View the case study
And now to wrap up this journey of a blog post, we leave you with this: Don’t feel compelled to cram everything above the fold. Today’s users are savvy, and they know how to use that funny little wheel in the middle of their mouse. They don’t have a problem with scrolling when they are given engaging and elegant content. Present your site as an experience, rather than a pitch, and you will have a happy ending to your story.