Why Long Web Pages are Better than Short Ones
Many Internet sites that try to sell you something have very long pages. Why is that do you think? Well, it appears that long, scrolling, web pages lead to more sales than short pages. This article explains why you need long web pages.
If you have surfed the web for things to buy you can hardly have missed some of the seemingly endless, long, scrolling web pages that only tell you the price somewhere near the bottom of the page. Some of these web pages have around 5,000 words on them - a good chapter of a book. They go against all the advice from web designers and Internet 'experts'. So why do they appear?
Some web designers have told me that such pages break the commonly agreed rules of good web 'etiquette'. This suggests that you should only offer one 'screen' of material at a time and that if you have more than will fill a screen, you should break your information up into separate pages that people click through. The designers also talk about compatibility with different screen resolutions, PCs and Macintoshes and explain, quite logically why you should limit the material you have on a page.
Then, if you speak to marketing communications experts, they'll tell you that your web page should offer clear directions as to what the user is expected to do - either 'sign up', 'buy now', etc. They claim this can only be done with short web pages which are clear and uncluttered.
So we have unanimous voting from our jury of experts which is in favour of short web pages. So let's consider what the 'long page' gurus say. I have spoken with several proponents of the long page concept. They all say the same thing. When they had short web pages they had a trickle of sales. When they re-wrote their web site and made it a single page with all the copy on one scrolling page, their sales rocketed. The simple truth of the matter is that more people buy from long web pages than from short ones.
As a psychologist that set me thinking, why should that be? The answer is, I think, a relatively straightforward one. Human beings like to adopt the option of least effort. Whatever we do, we appear to want to avoid maximum effort. In web site terms, clicking is more effort and more time consuming than scrolling - particularly if you have a wheel mouse where a single flick of the forefinger can get you all the way down the page. It means with a single web page you can get to the information you want within a second or so, but with several single pages it might take considerably longer. Hence we are put off by the effort of single pages - we never get to find out if we would really like to buy the product because we give up before we get there. Whereas with a single web page, we can quickly make our decision by viewing all the relevant material at once.
The long page proponents say that most people do not read the whole page; instead they look at the headlines, see if there are testimonials, read the bullet points and see if the ordering process is secure and simple. Naturally they also check the price - though this is not usually the first consideration. Hence if you have a long web page with all these components you can boost your sales. I've tried it and it has worked for me. It could work for you.
If you are not sure - experiment. Set up a separate long page and compare the results with your existing short pages. At least on the Internet you can test your different business ideas quickly and easily. I'm convinced you'll find the long web page works best - let me know what happens!
Graham Jones is a psychologist who has specialized in the way we use the Internet. He is an expert on information products and runs Infoselling.com where you can get a FREE report on how to sell your own infoproducts.
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