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How to Build a One Pager

A one pager is a great way of conveying detailed content. You should have a clear idea in advance of what they are best used for and how they are built. Here is some advice.

When a One Pager is the right choice

Some people think that in a few years, only "holistic“ (in plain language: "Comprehensive, long") websites will do well with users and in Google. I don’t see it that way. A decent product page for pencils or news items should be kept short and concise. The homepage of your shop does not have to explain all aspects of your business through storytelling. However, whenever it comes to communicating complex facts on the web, One Pagers are a proven tool for doing this.


Figure 1: It's not always about having a lot of text – Bellroy also shows smart functions in the One Pager (source)

However, beware: The SEOs among you will say that a One Pager won’t achieve a great position in the search results for a random keywords or topics. As a general rule, Google always wants to deliver the best answer to a search query, and that's why websites should be "focused" on the search query. In other words: A One Pager about "Holiday in Thailand“ is probably not the best answer for a search on the best "beach on Ko Lipe" - because this beach is listed among 1,000 other pieces of information.

A One Pager makes sense in certain situations:

  1. Complex topics that might need explaining

  2. Search queries for which the person doing the search is willing to invest time

  3. Possible for sites that want to convince with technical brilliance (see, for example, the One Pager from Apple for the Mac Pro)

However, if you're hoping to take your users with a One Pager on a time-consuming journey through your own world of ideas for sub-complex products and convince them to buy, you will fail. Users are too impatient. What can go fast, should go fast. The construction of a One Pager is also quite complex, and not worth doing it for any old thing.

What does the content have to be able to do?

If we have now found a suitable and sufficiently complex topic such as "term life insurance" or "holiday in Thailand", we then develop helpful content for that topic. Here the rule of proportionality applies: The existing content defines the length of the post - and not the other way round.

The content should be holistic: Make a rough estimate of how long your visitor wants to deal with the topic, and how much information they needs before they’ve "enough" of it. This marks your content-quantity. It's not about writing as much as possible about a topic, but writing about the interesting and readable aspects of it! The content should be focused: Of course, when you are talking about your liability insurance, you can make a reference to risk insurance. However, only marginally, because the reader doesn’t want to know about risk insurance. Offer them links to external sites, but don't ramble on about related topics.

Do not be afraid of redundancy: You may have already described your USPs on another sub-page, but don’t rely on the fact that the user has read all of your sub-pages. Everything relevant to the topic must be included in the OnPager, even if it already included elsewhere on your website.

Be unique: You should still make sure you have as little duplicate content as possible on your One Pager. Of course, you may also copy your USPs or other relevant information from another page. However, don't just sample text from other sites. Instead, create something new!

Make the page so that it's incomparable: It is not very helpful to build a One Pager for "term life insurance" if you already have another product page for it, because then the two pages will get in each other’s way, and both users and search engines won’t know what the most relevant one is. One page for each keyword/topic is enough.

This not only applies to the One Pager, but also to all of the subpages. Since there is more work involved with a One Pager, you should take it more seriously.

Layout and Structure

You should decide how to set the One Pager up when you first start to research. For more extensive pages, we always create a mind map, which contains possible/meaningful/necessary aspects. That's fast and brain-friendly. Such a mind map can also be filled with more information and even snippets of text. In the end, the branches are simply arranged in a proper sequence – the contribution structure is complete.

This has the advantage that you have completed chapters in front of you, which of course are as concrete and attractive as possible, and have intermediate headlines. One rule that almost always applies: Make sure that when scrolling on any desktop page, there is an intermediate headline (or sub-sub-headline) to see about halfway down. And yes, of course every page becomes more attractive and content-rich with suitable (!) images. Don't forget: Every picture needs a caption.

Other than that, it will not surprise anyone if I just suggest to always work with bullet points, tables and shadow effects. This helps when reading and gives hectic readers the opportunity to find the part in the One Pager that they want to read. Despite all the love for the text, it's still true that: Out of 100% of all texts, only about 25% are read. And only about 6% are read to the end. Therefore, build as many structural signals in your content as you can so that the "scanner" can find what they need.

Tuning for the One Pager

A good One Pager can also be properly tuned. Here are some thoughts on how to make a top article from an average post:

1. Be completely responsive:

Of course, your layout will adapt to the form factor of the reader. That's a good start. But that is just the beginning of responsiveness. Which text and which images will the smartphone user see? And what content on the desktop? And even better, if harder: Will the reader or customer coming via Facebook really get the same headline as the one visiting the page via Google? I know that kind of responsiveness is a lot of effort - and not necessary or wise on many websites. But just think about it.

And please don't believe people pandering easy formulas, because it is simply wrong to be shown less and shorter texts on your mobile. Focus more on how it should look for your customers on the go. They probably don't feel like filling in a form, so you can display your phone number to them. Or maybe a video or image might be more appropriate? As a doctor, you should show the user how to get to your practice, rather than presenting your practice. I think you know what I mean.

2. Always be up to date:

A One Pager is only a good solution when you are ready to put some work into it. Basically, your One Pager will never be complete - it will always need some TLC. I don’t mean a weekly update, but rather when something has occurred that concerns your topic. Think about Wikipedia: many pages are not only unbelievable comprehensive, they are also always up to date.

3. Help with an overview:

Show the reader in a prominent and immediate way what you are offering. Maybe with a jump-to navigation (that they can scroll) and an introduction where you promise to comprehensively cover their query in detail. Don't expect them to understand on their own how long and comprehensive your page is. Because they won't.

4. Fascinate your visitors:

Even if you shouldn't/mustn't force your customers to do anything, they'll love it if you fascinate them. The buzzword here is 'Storytelling'. The simplified form of that is top-lists ('The 7 best tips of Online Marketing'), since they provide a clear, albeit very simple, order. Logical steps or stories that build on one another semantically are more elegant. Just read your sub headers one after another - they should read like chapters in a good story. And if you have a good running gag - all the better.

5. Call-to-Action:

If you are thinking of making a super-holistic landing page, the Call-to-Action Button is not an easy aspect. Because 'holistic' means 'comprehensive' - and buying is only one possible aspect among many for a visitor. I personally think it's still fair if the call-to-action is always in the field of vision and maybe even scrolls down the page too. But I may also be wrong. That is what Amazon suggests, where the buy-button is only at the top right. So I am left with my usual reflex, as always, when it comes to conversion: Please test it!

Tools & Issues

You don't really need a tool to build a One Pager. Your CMS can do it - just add more content to a sub page.

However, we are all a bit technological and like to play with new templates and technologies. A WordPress installation with a nice Parallax theme is set up quickly. Journalists and publishers in particularly enjoy Pageflow, an OpenSource that can also be hosted.

However, you will come across two potential problems:

First, your One Pager might require a new domain or subdomain, but that’s often not very constructive. A One Pager in my opinion is always better within the existing page structure, so as a further sub page. That way, it adds to the main domain and vice versa.

Second, many Parallax themes are somewhat design polluted. They serve former flash designers as a new outlet for pointless imagery. And that has about as much to do with a proper One Pager as a Ferris wheel with space travel. That's because if the entire visible screen is only made up of one image and two words - the reader will see it as an image and two words. They will probably never know how much work you put into the not visible part.

So what is the cost?

In conclusion: A One Pager means considerable effort, but how much? Now I can't tell you of course. But I want to give you a way to calculate it yourself. I don't know what techniques you need, how extensive (and therefore expensive) your text will be and so on. But you should calculate these points for starters.

I hope this article has done two things for you: firstly, created some respect for One Pagers. Because there is no point of just giving it a go and then fail halfway through only to then go back to producing a long website. Secondly, I hope you now feel like trying out this sort of One Pager!

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Published on Mar 27, 2018 by Eric Kubitz