Website Types – Purpose and Benefit
Originally, before the web was opened to the public, websites were purely informational text-only sites for educational, research and government agencies. Now there are more types of websites and hybrids of those types than you can count. Here are the basic types. Where do you and your idea fit?
Personal Websites – Personal websites usually provide information about a certain individual or group and require little to no maintenance. A lot of internet service providers give consumers the opportunity to create a personal website by giving you free server space to upload family photos and content. This space is very limited and only allows you to do the bare minimum. This type is not advisable for a small business as they are not search engine friendly and the limited capabilities are not nearly sophisticated enough.
E-Commerce Websites – E-Commerce websites are online shops and commercial and auction websites. Just about anything that can be sold in a brick-and-mortar store can be sold online—with much less overhead! In order to be a competitor with other businesses on the internet an E-Commerce site must have excellent Calls to Action and simple and secure checkout procedures. E-Commerce sites would have to be the most popular start-up type of website, and although they take more time to build and market, they are often the most profitable.
Online Business Brochure/Catalogue Websites – With your online brochure or catalogue, you can show anyone who looks for and finds your website, photos and descriptions of your products or services. Although this may sound like an E-Commerce Website, there are many businesses that deal in products or services that are not sellable over the web—think hair-stylist, dentist, or day-care centre. These sites are simple and effective and add another point of contact for prospects and clients.
Informational Websites – Informational websites such as Wikipedia are among the easiest sites to maintain so long as the information is regularly refreshed or updated. If you have information to share or sell this is the type for you. Take a landscaping business for example: A website that lists plants with their definitions and planting and caring instructions would be helpful to people, and would lead people to your nursery. Of course an e-commerce function could later be added to sell your plants online.
Blog/Forum Websites – If you want to voice your opinion and meet people with common views then Blogging is the way to go. Blogs (online journals or editorials) give regular people the power to tell the world what is on their mind. There are many free Blogging sites available and maintenance for these sites depends on how big of a Blogger you are. Allowing readers, for example, to post comments or responses to a post increases maintenance with the need to constantly monitor what people post as well as edit any information you see fit. Blogs are great for a business – it’s free advertising and a way to reach a wider customer base.
Social Websites – Social websites such as Facebook and EHarmony are groups or communities that are online where members can meet and interact with other people that share a common interest. Social websites are usually high maintenance, since in order to keep your visitors and attract new ones you must continually update your information and have the latest interactive media. Also, security is a big issue as these community sites usually contain a lot of personal and private information about its’ members. Not been up to date with your social websites security could put you in very hot water. Forums, file sharing sites and blogs may also be considered social websites and have the same benefit of networking and connectivity to the small business person
File Sharing Websites – File Sharing websites provide space for people to post files like photos or videos so other people may view them, save them and sometimes buy them. Some good example of File Sharing websites are YouTube, Flickr, and Instagram. There could easily be over a hundred such sites that offer free photo sharing paid for by their online advertising. They are great as secondary sites for any business and require only monitored communication with those who view your files.