A Definitive Guide to Websites

A Definitive Guide to Websites

Have you ever wondered why some websites stand out and others are just mediocre, boring, or lack that pop? Well, here is a brief guide on the different types of websites available today and how they are classified. Read on, I hope you'll learn one or two new things. Cheers!

I have been building websites and doing web-based projects for 9 years now. The most important thing we’ve learned over that time is; it’s important to define a website’s goal, intended use, and target users before you even begin the project. It’s so easy to be caught up in the cloud of cool things and buzzwords. 

With more than 1.8 million other websites around, it’s crucial for your website to be visible. In order to achieve this visibility, you need to be able to answer these questions with clarity;

  1. Who is going to use your website? (Hint: the answers can’t be “everybody”)
  2. Why will they use it?
  3. What problems will it solve?
  4. What will make them want to get back again (and is it needed)?
  5. What will make your website special?

The answers you get to these questions will begin to define the type of website you need. This forms the basis for understanding what users may expect from your website and how you will give it to them.

In today’s post, I will briefly go through the different types of websites available in the market.

Websites 101

Let us start with the basics. A website is simply defined as a collection of web pages which provide users with a variety of content including text, images, video, or audio.

They’re identified with a domain name and published on a web server.

Websites can be classified into different types. People will always describe websites in various ways depending on how they interact with them. There are several factors that influence this division – from purely technical issues, the information on the website and perhaps the goals the website achieves.

The factors of classification which we will apply for this post are functionality and content.

1. Type of Website Content

Websites may be divided into 2 big groups — static and dynamic (interactive). This classification is based on the frequency with which the content of the website is updated.

Static websites are the basic kind. They don’t change their content often and they don’t allow a lot of interaction from the users. Mostly, websites of this kind are made for information goals rather than interaction. Much like parastatal websites.

Dynamic websites are the ones whose content is regularly updated. Even more, different users can often see different kinds of information. For example, your experience with any e-commerce website: what you see at a particular point on the website depends on multiple factors such as location, your search history, your being logged-in or logged-out, the relevance of some products to the season or hot sales and so on, and so forth.

Dynamic websites may in some cases allow the users to customize what they choose to see using a pre-defined set of tags and filters. The website, in turn, will have to respond and show the updated content to the users. These type of websites are gaining popularity because users expect more from a web resource than just information.

2. Functionality and Purpose

We can also classify websites based on what problems it solves for the users. When we talk about functionality, we look at websites from the following perspectives.

Personal presentation websites are ones that promote an individual from a creative or professional perspective. Here, you can find various portfolios, writers’ and teachers’ blogs, etc.

Corporate websites are the next level of promotion as they are aimed at presenting the company. Their core target audience is clients who buy services and any conversion would ideally lead to the deal or contract. Therefore, this website has to provide information about the services and flow of work, share the key benefits and company philosophy, show the portfolio and signs of trust such as testimonials and reviews. The website should present the corporate brand as credible, reliable, and professional while giving the potential clients the direct connection to the company representatives. What’s more, another segment of target users may include people who would like to work in the company: in this case, the website features information about the team, available vacancies, requirements to the personnel as well as the company activities and events.

E-Commerce websites are among the most popular sites today. Their main purpose is to sell a product or service to the customers online. An E-commerce platform enables a user to follow the path from choice to a real purchase. It takes into account all the stages, including payment, delivery, and/or reviews.

Sharing websites (stock) are platforms that allow users to share various kinds of content such as photos, videos, music, graphics, copy, etc. Users may download the content to use for free or by paying for the content depending on the platform’s strategy.

Streaming websites are based on video content: these may be online TV services or streaming platforms like Netflix or Showmax.

Crowdfunding websites are aimed at raising money for various goals, from charity to startup and business investments.

Social websites provide a platform through which people can exchange opinions and share thoughts. They may allow different content length (compare Facebook and Twitter), different types of key content, themes and social grouping.

News websites can be thought of as online magazines or newspapers. Their main goal is to inform users about the latest news and events. These resources may be universal (covering multiple directions and themes) or thematic (design news, fashion news, economic news and so on).

In conclusion, what all the users expect from any website is value. A kick-ass design or well-written content will NOT work if the website isn’t perceived as useful by its intended target audience. If a website is able to support users with ideas, solve their problems and satisfy their needs, it will shine.

So, what are you building now? I can help you make it the masterpiece it’s supposed to be.

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