The website visitor experience
Imagine a website providing details of the services offered by a company - maybe they have 5 main services, A, B, C, D and E as simple examples.
There are two main ways to consider how to create a suitable website structure so that each of these services can be presented and described on the website:
1) A single page, scrolling down to each service
2) A dedicated separate webpage for each service (so one page for A, one page for B etc.)
Now let's think about how a visitor will end up on the website - using the single page design, if they perform a search and click into this website from the results, their browser is going to put them at the top of the page they chose to click. If they were searching for service E then they are not going to see this - they'll either choose to do lots of scrolling and hope they see they details they are looking for or worst case, miss what they were looking for. If they do miss it, or choose not to scroll because they think they have clicked the wrong website link in the search results, they're quite possibly going to leave your website and look elsewhere.
That can lose you potential customers very easily!
Now consider the same thing using a multi-page design, with each web page focused on the specific service (A, B, or C etc.). They click on a search result for service E and land straight at the top of a page which instantly details this service. No scrolling, no missing the information - it is there without any worry of them misunderstanding things.
Provide the right call to actions on this page (phone number, email address, contact form) and they have a quick and clear way to see that you offer what they are looking for and it is easy for them to get in touch.
Quite a powerful and very easy way to make sure your potential customers easily find what they are looking for when visiting your website.
Single page vs Multi page for search engine optimisation (SEO)
Consider a search engine a little bit like a person - it needs to be able to clearly understand what your website is about, and what each sub-page is focused on. Having a single page with lots of details about many different services highly dilutes the content and makes it harder for the search engine to get a clear view of each aspect of your business - a visitor can be no different, seeing so much information on one lengthy scrolling page makes it easy for them to miss what they are looking for and go elsewhere.
Then consider how it will see a website where each service is distinctly described on its own individual web page - the search engine still sees the same overall content as it would for a single page layout, however it now sees a dedicated focus on each service you offer and can therefore present each individual page in search results as applicable instead of listing just one confused page (assuming it chooses to show the single page one at all).
Whilst there are always ways to optimise any web page for SEO, it is more difficult to do on a single page layout than a multi page.
Considering the potential pit falls from using a single page layout for both the visitor and from an SEO perspective, we always prefer and recommend to use a multi page focused website structure rather than the lengthy scrolling process involved with a single page design. Further account for the statistics that show mobile phone browsing of websites continues to be a much higher percentage than those using a laptop or desktop computer, and a single page layout adds a huge amount of scrolling for visitors compared to the focused multi page concept.
Our preference is to provide the best solution to make sure that your website works for both visitors and search engines, and whilst we are up for creating single page web designs when requested, we will always recommend that in most cases, a multi page website structure is far better for your business and its customers!