This post was originally published on April 28, 2016 and updated on June 6, 2019.
Occasionally we get an inquiry about a new website where the client-to-be asks, “How many pages do I get?” The short answer is that the internet is limitless; you can have a hundred pages or more if you want. However many pages it takes to tell your story well, that’s how many pages you’ll get. We look at website builds as a complete project, rather than pricing out pages ala carte.
But every once in a while we get a request for a single-page website. Maybe the “story” is simply that short and sweet—there’s no need to go on and on for 3-5 pages without more to say. Sometimes the perception is that a single-page site is less expensive, so the person is trying to keep costs in check. The trick lies in determining whether or not a single-page site will really meet your needs.
How to Tell What Works For You
The best way to determine how many pages your site needs is to think about the information you’re trying to convey, and how you want your visitors to get there. For Kelso Heating & Cooling, as an example, their message is pretty simple. They provide HVAC services. They are good at what they do, and they want you to know that other people agree with them. But otherwise, the main purpose of their website is to get you to call them. They don’t need a lot of pages in order to accomplish this.
Meanwhile, the Episcopal Diocese of Springfield has a lot of information on their website. Not only is it a major communications piece for dozens of parishes throughout Illinois, but it also connects local churches with events happening at both the national and global level. Various ministries and committees share information about upcoming events, quarterly print newsletters are archived online, and the bishop runs a blog which he adds to on a daily basis. The presence of so many pages of content actually affects the entire navigation menu structure. For them, we added secondary and tertiary level levels in a menu that display multiple levels at a glance.
The Infinite Flexibility of the Web
The other piece of this equation is the fluidity of the internet. You could launch a brand-new website and literally change all of the content within a minute of its debut. (Try doing that with a print brochure or a billboard.) Because a website is so flexible, it almost doesn’t matter how little or how much content you start with. I would suggest that there needs to be a minimum amount of content in order to properly be seen by search engines. But I would encourage you to remember that your website’s content can easily flow and change just as your story does. It can be very freeing to think of web development that way, at least for me.
So what will work for you? When thinking about building or redesigning a website, take the time to think about the message you’re trying to convey and how you want that message received. Then let the website unfold as the story dictates; don’t over-explain, but give yourself and your message the breathing room it needs to get the attention it deserves.