Website Design

The web is vast. As of now, there are billions of websites online, all competing for some share of the attention people give to their online browsing each day. When you’re starting a new website, it can be overwhelming to think about all the other websites out there.

But it’s helpful to remember that within that huge number of websites, you have a lot of different categories of types of websites trying to accomplish different things. As you consider how best to build your own website, carefully consider what type of website you want it to be. When you can narrow down the goals and setup you have in mind, you can more easily identify the other websites in your category to look to for inspiration.

Here are seven of the most popular types of websites you’ll see around the web. While there’s some overlap between the different categories, in general each type of website has certain goals to achieve and its own set of best practices. Which one will your website be?

eCommerce Website

An eCommerce website is a website people can directly buy products from. You’ve probably used a number of eCommerce websites before, most big brands and plenty of smaller ones have one. Any website that includes a shopping cart and a way for you to provide credit card information to make a purchase falls into this category.

If you’re learning how to start a website for your business and plan to sell your products through the site, then this is the type of website you need to build. There are some specific steps you have to be sure to include when building an eCommerce website, like investing in eCommerce software and getting your SSL certificate to ensure your customers can pay securely. And you’ll want to make sure your web design and copy are all crafted with the site’s main goal in mind: making sales.

Ecommerce websites can be an extension of a business you already have, or become something you build a new business around.

Business Website

A business website is any website that’s devoted to representing a specific business. It should be branded like the business (the same logo and positioning) and communicate the types of products and/or services the business offers.

By now, every business out there should have a website. It’s a widespread expectation. Every potential customer you encounter will just assume that if they Google your business looking for more information, they’ll find a website. And if they don’t, it makes the business look less professional or legitimate.

E-commerce websites are business websites, but it’s also possible to have business websites that don’t sell anything directly, but rather encourage visitors to get in contact for more information (a lead generation website) or come to a storefront if they’re interested in becoming customers.

Portfolio Website

Portfolio websites are sites devoted to showing examples of past work. Service providers who want to show potential clients the quality of the work they provide can use a portfolio website to collect some of the best samples of past work they’ve done. This type of website is simpler to build than a business website and more focused on a particular task: collecting work samples.

This type of website is most common for creative professionals and freelancers that are hired based on demonstrated skill and can be a more efficient alternative to a business website that serves a similar focus.

Educational Website

The websites of educational institutions and those offering online courses fall into the category of educational websites. These websites have the primary goal of either providing educational materials to visitors, or providing information on an educational institution to them.

Some educational websites will have advertisements like entertainment and media websites do. Some offer subscription models or educational products for purchase. And some serve as the online presence for an existing institution.

Personal Website

Not all websites exist to make money in some way or another. Many people find value in creating personal websites to put their own thoughts out into the world. This category includes personal blogs, vlogs, and photo diaries people share with the world.

Sometimes these websites can evolve into something that makes money if they become popular enough and the person who started them wants to make that shift, but they primarily exist as a way to share your feelings, insights, and art with any friends and strangers that might be interested.

Building a personal website is easier than most of the other websites on the list since the goal has lower stakes. You just want to make it look like you want, rather than worrying about driving sales or making ad money.

Web Portal

Web portals are often websites designed for internal purposes at a business, organization, or institution. They collect information in different formats from different sources into one place to make all relevant information accessible to the people who need to see it. They often involve a login and personalized views for different users that ensure the information that’s accessible is most useful to their particular needs.

Web portals will generally involve more complicated programming and design than most of the other websites described on this list, so make the most sense for skilled and experienced web programmers to consider.

Wiki / Community Forum

Most people are familiar with wikis through the most famous example of one out there: Wikipedia. But wikis can be created on pretty much any subject you can imagine. A wiki is any website where various users are able to collaborate on content and all make their own tweaks and changes as they see fit. There are wikis for fan communities, for business resources, and for collecting valuable information sources.

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