Microsites tend to be everything but smart little websites. They are overcrowded with information, complex to navigate, outdated shortly after launch and impossible to maintain. One page websites aim to change all of this by providing the user with enough information on a single page to make a decision and act on it.
Think of it as a 1-page brochure leveraging the power of the web. Finnish bio and forest products giant UPM with 20,000+ employees globally launched their first one page website with their UPM Grada one page website in May 2011 to promote a new product.
In a conversation with Markku Herrala, Head of Communication at UPM Plywood, told me about their work with creating one page websites focused on their products:
It is important to have a clear concept, ownership and goals in place for the website. It's also key to focus on the essential and to take a critical view on what you plan to put on your page
Prior to of launching their initial one page website, UPM created the following design components that they can use and re-use to extend the site and for future sites:
- 2 columns with pictures, description and read more pop-up windows
- Inline video (place them also on YouTube)
- News element, eg. 4 most recent stories
- Tab navigation, e.g. for Designers
- Boilerplate section, e.g. About us
- Contact form
UPM also uploaded the promotional video on YouTube (view 6 minutes on UPM Grada Plywood), but kept the video inline on the one page website, in order not to lose the website visitors somewhere on YouTube. The news elements are not pulled from the corporate site, but simply created for the one page website.
Behind the scenes, UPM is working with just one big HTML file that uses AJAX. In other words: No content management system!
The future of microsites?
I really like the idea of one page websites. It forces you to focus on the essentials and fewer tasks that you would like your visitors to solve. A good one page website can potentially still run into some of the same problems with out-dated information that have been plaguing existing microsites. Hopefully the limited scope of these smaller and smarter websites will help avoid this.
If you look at the UPM one page website, you'll also notice the absence of any top-level navigation. Many traditional microsites still include some sort of navigation, some even with a hook into the brand website. It is also inspirational to see how few links, in particular external links, UPM has included. It is quite clear from the Grada website, that the most wanted response is for visitors to fill out the form at the end and this makes the website much more valuable for UPM.
The use of Flash might be a bit controversial today as this means that the website wont work on iPads. Keep this in mind if you go down this route.
Great work, Markku and team!
If you curious to learn more about these new smart websites and see some fancy examples, then take a closer look at One Page Love. One of the recently added examples is for the new Galaxy Nexus by Google.
To learn more about UX best practices and trends, don't miss the user experience conference track on Wednesday, November 9 in Aarhus.
Markku spoke at the J. Boye Aarhus web & intranet conference in 2006 and 2008