There are many different types of websites; and while any attempt to categorize them is bound to be imperfect, there are some broad types based on their purpose and the type of organization they are created for.
1. Business websites
A business website is a website designed to represent the identity of a business on the Internet.
There are many reasons why a business might want to be visible on the Internet, including public perception of its size, sophistication, modernity, connectedness, customer service and reliability – and typically to encourage enquiries from potential customers or partners.
It is still the case that not all active businesses have an Internet presence. Some tradespeople (such as plasterers and electricians) may get enough business through word-of-mouth recommendations and through contracts with established contacts to feel no need to advertise their services on the Internet with their own website.
It is more important to have your own website if your business has or seeks to recruit employees, is seeking to attract contracts and sales by advertising itself online, or needs to represent its services in a professionally presented and modern way to its target market. It is still often the case that someone will inspect your website even if they have received a personal recommendation to use your services.
2. Brochure and Catalogue websites
A brochure website is a website designed to display a business’s products and services to view online. It will typically include testimonials, case studies, appropriate images and video.
A brochure website is simpler than a catalogue website as it does not need to list a large number of different products, but simply serves as an attractively presented online advertisement for the business, showing where it is located, how to make contact, and in general terms what products or services it offers. A brochure website can be quite simple and consist of a single page (though usually at least five pages), whereas a catalogue website will tend to have dozens or hundreds of pages representing different product ranges and individual products.
A catalogue website is different from an eCommerce website in that it does not allow online checkout and payment for goods or services. It is designed to showcase them and induce those browsing to make contact with the business to place an order or request a quotation, depending on what is being offered.
3. eCommerce Websites
An eCommerce website is one designed and set up to allow customers to make purchases of all a business’s products or services directly online including making payment through an online gateway. This can be done at any time of day or night without requiring a phone call or some other form of direct contact with the business.
eCommerce websites display all the products or services that can be purchased, then allow those browsing them to add as many of these as are wanted to a virtual shopping trolley known as a ‘cart’ (after the American English term for shopping trolley).
Once the buyer has added to the cart everything he or she wishes to buy, a virtual checkout process is provided, allowing the purchase to be processed.
4. Educational websites
An educational website in its narrowest definition is one representing an educational institution such as a traditional school, college or university. It may also represent a private education provider such as a tutor, or a virtual college offering online and distance-based courses.
Educational websites should be designed to represent their education providers as professionally and as welcomingly as possible, so that they attract students and reassure both students and parents about the quality of education and pastoral care provided.
They do not necessarily include educational sources on the website itself but are likely to give details of each educational department within the establishment, photographs of the campus (if applicable), term dates, fees, addresses by the principal or head, contact details, and news.
5. Business directory websites
A business directory website is one that gathers together data on many different businesses in one place. Such websites have traditionally been useful places to advertise on and have also served as valuable sources of free links to business websites, although increasingly such links, being free to obtain, have been downgraded in value by search engines such as Google when it assesses the authority of a domain based on inbound links.
Some business directories are national and cover all fields of business; others are local but still cover all fields; while still others are specific to certain areas of business, and these are sometimes national but also sometimes international.
Some business directories are monetized entirely by allowing third-party advertising, while others offer enhanced listings and other promotional services in return for a paid subscription.
6. Landing Pages
A landing page is a one-page website usually created for a marketing campaign that drives visitors to take a specific action. The content and design should be to the point and lead the user to one CTA (call-to-action).
For example, a company might want to create a landing page as lead generation for their business, offering a free download or access to a video in exchange for an email address. Another example of a landing page might be to educate a user about an app and direct the user to download and use it.