Why a One-Page Portfolio Site is a Bad Idea
Let’s think for a moment about single page websites and portfolios. Single page sites can seem like a good, clean, simple idea. One page means less maintenance, less to keep up with, and they get straight to the point. They’ve been popular for the past few years, and have been touted as a no muss, no fuss way to get your name, information, and maybe a few samples of work out on the web. They are commonly used by many professionals – not just designers and other creatives. Sounds good, right? Not so fast. In this article, we will explore the various reasons why a one-page portfolio is not enough to get you noticed.
A one page portfolio layout can result in an oversimplification of what you could be including on your site. This might be okay if you’re trying to land a steady job with a company, as it comes off more like a resume than a portfolio. After all – we’re talking about portfolio websites, not resume websites.
For the purposes of this article, I am going to assume that the aim of your portfolio site is either to gain freelance work, or to get clients for your design studio. In order to attract clients to your site and entice them to contact you, you need a lot more information than just a resume. After all, it’s difficult to make an informed decision on hiring an employee on just a resume. In fact, this never happens – a great resume will get you in the door, but it won’t get you hired. At best, it gets you an interview.
A potential client doesn’t have the luxury of bringing you into the office, interviewing you once or twice, checking your references, running a background check, and everything that goes along with a job offer. A potential client needs to have enough information at their fingertips to make an informed decision to hire you – or contact you about hiring you – as quickly as possible.
Especially in the competitive creative industry, there are too many other professionals and specialists that are going to put enough information and time into their portfolio. And we don’t want to lose a potentially great client because we have an oversimplified, bland “resume” portfolio website.
A single page site might seem like “enough” – but as we all know, clients often have lots of questions. The more questions you can anticipate and answer right off the bat, the higher the chances you’ll get the client. And you can only answer so many anticipated questions on a single page.
So, if you have a multi-page site with links and navigation, the client can spend time on your site getting to know you as a professional. Your clients can choose what information is important to them, and they can read and research you on their own. And every client is going to be unique – everyone is going to have a different set of questions, or place a higher (or lower) level of importance on a piece of information.
Granted, people aren’t usually going to look through and read every page of your site. However, some might be really interested in seeing examples of your work. Others might want to see testimonials and a list of happy clients. The point here is, the more information you can put on your site, the easier it will be for the client to find the information that’s important to them, making their decision much easier. And a single page website is simply not going to hold all that information.
It’s bad for SEO
Another reason single page websites are often a bad idea is because with one page, you only get one shot at grabbing a search engine’s attention. That means you only have one shot at a client finding you online. With a plethora of competing creatives out there, I don’t like those odds, and neither should you.
If you have a site made of various landing pages and lots of great content, it gives clients multiple opportunities for clients to find you in search engines. This is critical to gaining traffic – and thereby potential clients – and it’s often overlooked by many creatives. You need to be found in searches, because that’s what clients are using more than anything.
Having one page really limits how many keywords and keyword phrases you can be found for. This will severely impact how many people find you and land on your site.
It’s hard to grow
Lastly, single page sites are a bad idea because it’s very difficult to continually add new content whenever you want to. Adding content regularly has a number of benefits. For one, Google and other search engines reward sites that update and keep their content fresh. Secondly, it looks good to a client.
You never know how many clients are following your site, or have a site overhaul coming up in the future. They might want someone to handle their work six months from now. If they check back and see your site updated with new clients, testimonials, or blog posts, it makes you seem active and on top of your game.
If you continually add content to a single page site, it would get incredibly long and bloated over time. People often don’t want to – or have time to – sort through pages and pages of content, images, and text with endless scrolling on a single page. Not to mention, if you’re advertising as a web designer or specialist, but have a long, bloated site yourself – who’s going to hire you? It makes you seem disorganized. And do you know what you call a disorganized web designer? Unemployed.
Wes McDowell is the Principal and Creative Director for The Deep End Web Design, West Hollywood. In addition to client work, he has authored several books for freelance designers and co-hosts a popular graphic design podcast called “The Deeply Graphic DesignCast.” Follow Wes on Google+