Designers and clients frequently ask this question before designing or ordering a new website. Is there a “right” answer to it? No.
The number of Web pages that a particular website needs directly depends on the type of website, its application and also its potential user base. For example, personal websites often have two or three pages while giants like Amazon and Yahoo! might have thousands or more. In other words, the number of pages is directly proportional to the amount of necessary content. If you have a lot of content, you’ll need a lot of pages.
Before you start designing, then, it’s a good idea to plan the content and information architecture. Determine how many pages you’ll need and how content will be organized on each. There are two major benefits to planning: you’ll reduce development costs and speed up the design process.
Maybe you’ve heard of this? At first it might sound a bit ridiculous, but it’s a relatively new and now fairly popular design trend: to design one single page instead of dozens of them. In this design method, one uses only one page and all content is placed (compressed) into it.
Not all websites can be designed as single pages, of course, but it is a practice well suited to websites like portfolios. Single-page websites, from the users’ perspective, have one great advantage over others: they save time because they eliminate multiple page loads.
The first load time might be long if a single-page website has a lot of content, but ultimately these websites are easier to use. I personally like single-page website design but there are many who don’t, and who prefer not to use them. For this reason it’s a bit risky to establish a business on a single page, but some creatives have managed to do it. If you plan to try it, avoid creating long pages that require seemingly endless scrolling. This will tire users and cause them to leave your website. Mapping a website with many pages into a single page is irrational as well. Websites should be lightweight, concise and well thought out.
Checkout following latest examples to get the idea.
In standard Web design, most websites have similar pages and each of those has a specific function. Of course every will website have unique pages according to its unique functions—pricing pages, for example. Let’s take a look at some common Web pages.
The home page is one of the most important pages on a website, if not the most important. It’s the official entry point, and it works as a billboard by giving users an overview of the main goals of the website’s owners (usually a person, a company or an organization).
Train-ee is a good example of a home page that uses the header to focus in on its goal with big typography and illustrations. It also has well-positioned navigational tools both in the header and the footer, and the search box is in a good place.
Symantec has a complete home page; it’s non-scrollable, it has navigation in the header and footer, it has a well-positioned search box and there are other good features.
Visitors should have the opportunity to learn about the person, company or organization represented on the website and to read about its vision and mission. Designers can also showcase their skills and expertise on this page. It often works well to use a funny or light-hearted tone on the about page.
Rob Palmer introduces himself in a funny way with a friendly tone and lists his abilities in a table-like structure. The only drawback is length, but a long about page is more forgivable than a long home page.
This is a minimalist page that uses simple text decoration (color and size) to make important parts of the text stand out. It’s simple but effective.
Mozilla’s about page includes a brief introduction and an informative video. The layout and design is simple and descriptive enough.
This page usually lists the ways in which users can get in touch. Include email addresses, phone numbers, postal addresses or whatever you deem appropriate. It’s also common to include a simple contact form to make connecting easier.
Here is a complete and well-designed contact page with all the required things: common addresses, social-networking links and a contact form.
Survey Monkey has a proper contact page with links to other useful websites as well. Its interesting feature is that it uses maps to show the physical location of its offices. The lack of phone numbers and social-networking presence might be considered drawbacks.
The Crazy Egg “contact” page, like most others, is very simple. This is the most common style for “contact” pages. A contact form is the focal point of the page, and Crazy Egg’s phone number and email address listing is nearby.
Pages like these help users to use the services the website provides by instructing them or answering questions. The names of these pages should indicate their content: “Help” for general help, “FAQ” for frequently asked questions (usually about different aspects of the website or its services) and “Support” to address specific concerns or problems and to provide troubleshooting advice.
Campaign Monitor has a well-structured “help” page that breaks concerns into categories to make topical searching easy for users. It also uses icons to support its categorization and puts everything in the right place.
Apple’s support page is brilliant, like its products! The topics are well categorized and cover all areas that users might be interested in.
“Help Center” is the right name for this section of Google’s website. There are many, many Google products, so the support system must be comprehensive and well organized in order for it to be effective and usable.
Blogs have several benefits. They take advantage of user participation and are notable SEO tools. Users are interested in blogs, and most websites have them now.
This one is well designed and has good navigation and categorization that helps users find what they seek.
KISS Metrics’s blog page is another good, simple example. It has a beautiful look and feel, and the sidebar gives users many options and facilities.
Sitemaps generally present a complete list of the pages on a website (usually in a tree-view scheme or something like that) to help users search with ease. Sitemaps are also good for search-engine optimization (SEO).
Intel’s comprehensive and well-categorized sitemap is a good example. Compare it with sitemaps in which all links are listed in a single column without any partitioning or labeling. Those are more troublesome than useful.
Take a look at this page. For a user-friendly sitemap, design graphically. It will be attractive and alive, and you’ll be able to show a hierarchy of different sections or pages. This method is suitable for small-scale websites.
This page is the entry gate for registered users or those who want to become members. It should be a clear and functional page that facilitates quickness.
This page gives users the ability to sign in via other accounts in addition to Plaxo accounts. Its design is also clear.
Joyent’s page focuses in on the sign-up form, which makes the page easy to use. Let’s not forget its good form either; the most notable feature of Joynet is, obviously, the link to in the sign-in page for registered users at the top of the form, which also increases usability.
The Overstock account page tried to enhance usability by putting both the sign-up and sign-in forms on one page. It’s a good idea from the designers’ perspective as well as the users’. Most websites should do this.
For another example, consider a business website that likely has pages that list products, services, pricing and so on. There are plenty of other types of pages that might be appropriate to include as well.
Take a look at two above examples. The first one is a commercial website and the second is a non-profit one. See some potential pages a website could have.
Up to this section we’ve spoken about pages that candidates for inclusion on websites of all kinds, but there is another one—a debatable one. It’s known as a “splash” or intro page. If it exists on a website, it’s the first page that users see when they reach the website; it comes before the home page. It’s used to welcome and, most of the time, involves Flash animation.
A remarkable number of users don’t like splash pages, and they’re prone to SEO-related problems. Yet sometimes they can be useful—for example, when they provide options related to technical requirements, such as asking users what browser, language or version they prefer.
Look at the example below. On Production’s intro page gives users the option of selecting either its HTML website or a Flash game. It’s an example of the proper use of an intro page even though it could be removed without affecting the website’s content or goals.
More pages is equal to more content and, from an SEO-oriented perspective, more content is equal to more chances for a website to move up the list of search results. However, user satisfaction should be the aim of every designer, and users don’t appreciate endless page loading, so designers should use the fewest number of pages possible. This doesn’t mean cutting content or cramming pages; it just means using every pixel of every page profitably. For example, it’s possible to put information from another page, like the contact page, into the header or footer of the home page. The information becomes easy to access, and usability increases. Running with this idea will decrease the number of unnecessary pages and improve efficiency.
Boxee took advantage of header space for log-in boxes instead of building a separate log-in page.
Blackwell’s book shop has placed its sitemap in the footer to increase usability and accessibility.
Ditley subtly placed its contact information in the home page. Also, using a slider in the portfolio viewer eliminates the need to go to a separate portfolio page to see finished projects.
This is another viable way to place content together: to use UX design patterns to enhance user-interface functionality. Sliders and dynamic tabs are only two of the features that could be very handy when presenting a large amount of information in a small section of a page.
By using dynamic tabs, PlanetOnline saved page space and provided a variety of things in one place that are likely helpful for users.
We can look at design from various perspectives, but we must always do so with users and their convenience in mind. We want to create pleasant experiences, with few page loads, that entice visitors to stay in one place. From this point of view, it’s better to design as few pages as possible—but there is no strict rule for determining the correct number of pages for websites. That determination is best made with individual situations in mind. Still, we should strive to keep away from unnecessary pages. Our visions and our plans should determine the right number for each project.