Types of Websites Explained


Types of Websites Explained

Originally, websites were purely informational. Educational, research institutions and government agencies made information available to each other through ‘text-only’ websites. Now, the omnipresent, World Wide Web and internet has revolutionized the way one can do business. Having a website which reflects a business’ values and policies can influence the user positively. The types of websites a person can choose are varied based on the nature of the business, company profile or services offered. If you are looking to create a website, the below information can be helpful to understand the different types that are present and which one would be most suitable for your business, service or need.

  1. Informational Websites: As mentioned earlier, information-based websites were the first versions of sites on the internet.  These are basic sites containing quality information on a particular business or topic. For example, Wikipedia.org, the online encyclopedia. If you have information to share or sell, such a website would be appropriate. Another example is, a landscaping business can create a website listing plants with their definitions, planting, and caring instructions. This would be informative and useful to attract people to your nursery. However, with such websites, extreme care should be taken with respect to copywriting and visuals. It can also be upgraded by adding an e-commerce feature, a forum, photo sharing option, and so on.
  2. Personal Websites: These are similar to a blog. They are mainly meant for personal use, typically to share photos, information and stay in touch with friends and family. The individuals usually have their own personal domain. They can contain family photos, online diaries and have web addresses or URLs similar to ‘www.your-isp.com/~your-user-name/.’ More recently, people have started to use these websites to demonstrate skill sets or create interactive resumes that help them distinguish themselves from others. Your Internet Service Provider or Domain Registrar may offer the free server space needed to create such a site. For a small business, however, a personal website is not advisable because of the limited server capabilities the hosting company offers and also because the URL would not be search engine friendly.
  3. Community Building Websites: These include social media and networking sites such as Facebook, Linkedin. Such websites help develop online communities of people who want to socially interact, discuss mutual interests or meet others with common interests. These forum websites can be a good source of information and help in targeted advertising and growth opportunities for small, consumer-based businesses.
  4. Photo Sharing Website: Flickr.com, Photosite.com, Google’s Picasa are photo sharing websites that offer free or paid photo sharing. Some of these may also be paid for by online advertising. Additionally, many digital cameras and photo printers are equipped with software that allows digital photo slide shows that can be uploaded on the web.
  5. Online Business Brochure / Catalog Websites: These websites are more in depth than regular informational sites and provide details about a store, stock, service and the prices. They are mainly meant for businesses dealing with products or services that cannot be sold over the web—such as hair styling, dentist, day-care center, and so on. You can showcase photos and product descriptions through online brochures or catalogs. This casts a large net, reaching millions of people all over the world.
  6. E-Commerce Sites: E-Commerce websites take brochure websites a level further by allowing you to shop directly from the computer.  The main difference between a brochure site and an e-commerce site is that the latter features a checkout system enabling you to order directly from the online store. There are a number of plugins and pre-built options available, and the shopping cart choice depends mainly on the specific product and business. Small businesses can use E-commerce websites to sell their products over the internet to a wide target audience.
  7. Blogs: Blogs are a shortened form of ‘Web-Logs’ which are online diaries, journals or editorials. The topics of a blog can be varied such as personal lives, business, politics, news, current affairs, hobbies, and so on. Typically, a blog owner logs in regularly to write or publish his/her blog. Since a blog is self-published, it provides anyone a platform to voice their thoughts which become accessible to everyone.
  8. Mobile Sites: These web sites are among the latest, made specifically to be viewed on mobile devices or smartphones. Standard websites can be difficult to view or take a long time to download on mobile devices due to their small screens and wireless connections. Some websites whose pages are narrower in width and take less bandwidth work much better on mobiles. Hence, a new domain designation has been created to identify websites that are “mobile friendly.”  They are referred to as “responsive sites.” Websites today need to be mobile friendly in order to be successful since most people access sites from their handheld devices. If you have a small business, it would be advisable to make it mobile friendly.
  9. Directories: Web Directories are similar to printed Yellow Pages that were used to find services and businesses. Directories can be dedicated to a certain topic, industry or can encompass geographical areas. Search engines, such as Google.com and Yahoo.com can be considered directories as well, where you get specific information by entering a search term in the search field.

As technology develops, so do the variety of websites appearing online. Creating the right site for your business and customers is an investment as well as a huge asset. Understanding the various types of sites can help identify your web development requirements and define the website that is most suitable for your business needs.

mm
CEO, Flying Cow Design
Attended University of Auckland
Lives in San Francisco Bay Area
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