What are the different types of websites?

1.25 billion. That’s not the number of planets in the galaxy, or the number of grains of sand on a beach.

It’s the number of websites currently in existence, and this number is rising at an alarming speed.

Ask the question ‘what are the different types of websites?’ to any individual and you will get a completely different response each time. That’s because websites can be categorised in a number of ways – namely, in terms of functionality, design and content.

This article will talk you through all three.


Functionality

Websites can be categorised in terms of the functions they can perform. It can be tempting to think that the websites with the most sleek visual designs are the most complex in terms of functionality, but the opposite can often be true. Take Amazon, for example. We can all agree that Amazon is not the most beautiful website, but it is built to perform a huge range of functions.

In terms of functionality, there are five main types of websites:

examples of a brochure and portal website
  1. Brochure
  2. Ecommerce
  3. Portal
  4. Wiki
  5. Social media

1. Brochure

A brochure website is the simplest type of website in terms of functionality. Brochure websites typically only have a few pages, and will be used by small businesses that need a simple online presence. For example, a small plumbing company would only need a brochure website with a homepage displaying contact information, an ‘about us’ page and perhaps a couple of photos of their work. Their website is like an online business card for potential customers.

2. Ecommerce

An ecommerce website is one through which users are able to pay for a product or service online. This will normally involve one company selling to multiple users, but can also take the form of a multi-vendor ecommerce website, commonly known as a ‘marketplace’ website. Marketplace websites allow multiple vendors to sell to customers through the same site. Well-known examples include eBay and MyDeal.

3. Portal

A portal website brings together information from lots of different sources on the web. Early examples include Aol and Yahoo, who offer emails, forums, search engines and news all through their homepage. Portals can also be set up for internal use in schools, universities or companies, allowing students or employees to access their emails, alerts and files all in one place.

4. Wiki

A wiki website is one which enables people to collaborate online and write content together. The most popular example is Wikipedia itself, which allows anyone to amend, add to and assess the content of its articles.

5. Social media

Social media websites are platforms which allow the sharing of images or ideas. They encourage online interaction and sharing. The most popular social media website is Facebook, with a staggering 2.32 billion monthly active users. Other social media sites include YouTubeTwitterInstagram and LinkedIn.


Design: content

design content

Ask a web designer about the different types of websites, and their answer will probably be based on how dynamic the content of the page is, and the degree to which it is optimised for all devices.

A website’s dynamism depends on how often it’s updated, and how tailored it is to each visitor. In this respect, a website’s design can fit into one of two categories:

  1. Static/fixed
  2. Dynamic

1. Static/fixed

Static, or fixed, websites are the most simplistic. Their content does not change depending on the user, and is not regularly updated. Static websites are built using simple HTML code, and typically provide information.

2. Dynamic

A dynamic website or web page will display different content each time it is visited. Examples include blogs and ecommerce sites, or generally any site that is updated regularly. Dynamic websites can also be set up to show different content to different users, at different times of the day, etc.

Dynamic websites make for a more personal and interactive experience for the user, although they can be a little more complex to develop and may load slightly slower than static ones.


Design: responsiveness

responsiveness

And in terms of how optimised a website is for all devices (think smartphone and tablet screens as well as laptops and desktops), its design will fall into one of three categories:

  1. Static/fixed
  2. Fluid/liquid
  3. Responsive

1. Static/fixed

A fixed website is not well-optimised for different sized screens – rather it’s built to be a fixed width of pixels. Have you ever opened a website on your mobile and had to zoom in to see what’s written on each page? That’s a website with a static or fixed design.

Again, static websites may load slightly faster due to their simplicity. However they are not recommended due to the poor user experience created for those on mobiles or tablets. It is believed that over 50% of all searches are now conducted on mobile, so this is an important consideration.

2. Fluid/liquid

A website built with a fluid or liquid design ensures that the site always looks the same in terms of proportions, no matter what the screen size. Each element of the website, such as the navigation bar, will take up the same relative amount of space on every device.

3. Responsive

Going one step further than a fluid or liquid site, a website with responsive design is one that’s completely optimised for mobiles and tablets, to the point where the website will actually look different on each device.

It is especially important that your website has a responsive design if a large proportion of your audience uses devices other than a computer to view your site, as this will offer the best experience to these users.


Content

content_v2

When it comes to categorising websites by content, the list of options could literally go on forever. So, these are some of the most common ‘themes’ for website content to take – although there is potential for overlap between the categories:

  1. Blog
  2. Corporate
  3. Crowdfunding
  4. Ecommerce
  5. Educational
  6. Social media
  7. TV or video streaming

1. Blog

A blog is a website or web page that’s regularly updated. Typically, a blog will be run by an individual or a small group. A blog can focus on any topic, but will often be written in an informal or conversational style. Professional blogging has increased massively in popularity in recent years.

If you’re looking to start a blog, take a look at Wix. You can build your own website for free in just an hour, and it’s got blog-specific analytics and supports comments and social bookmarking, too.

2. Corporate

Businesses are waking up to the fact that they must have – at the very least – a basic website to ensure they appear credible and professional. Not all businesses will sell directly through these corporate websites, but all will use their site to provide information about themselves and let people know how they can get in touch.

Credible websites needn’t cost the earth; with 1&1, you can build a website that looks great and delivers results for as little as $1 per month.

3. Crowdfunding

In the past, funding a new business venture or project involved seeking large amounts of money from a select group of wealthy individuals (think Shark Tank). A relatively new and incredibly popular alternative, crowdfunding is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising small amounts of money from lots of people.

Crowdfunding involves creating a pitch video to explain the project, setting a funding target and hoping to reach it by your set deadline. Those who believe in the project will pledge a small amount of money to be a part of it, sometimes in exchange for rewards like pre-orders or discounts. Crowdfunding websites are becoming a go-to resource for new start-ups.

4. Ecommerce

An ecommerce site may be combined with a blog or a corporate website, but ultimately its aim is to sell a product or service over the internet. A website that is purely corporate with no ecommerce functionality is still indirectly encouraging users to buy a product or service, but the difference is that they are unable to do this through the site itself.

Shopify is the most comprehensive and versatile ecommerce platform on the market today. As well as having your own online store, Shopify enables you to sell across multiple channels including Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. You can try it for free, then prices start at $29 per month.

Compare prices from leading web design agencies

5. Educational

When you type ‘What are the different types of websites?’, ‘How to boil an egg’, or anything else you might want to know into a search engine, you’ll probably be faced with a selection of websites that are informative or educational. Their aim is simply to provide the user with the information they’re looking for.

6. News or magazine

News and magazine websites need little explanation. The primary purpose of a news website is to keep its readers up to date on current affairs. The same can be true of an online magazine website, to an extent – although with these there’s much more of a focus on entertainment.

If you’re looking to start a local newspaper or online zine, take a look at Wix – with striking templates, and a news app option, you really can’t go wrong.

7. Social Media

Social media websites are pretty unique in terms of both functionality and content. Social media sites were created as a place to share thoughts, images and ideas, and are increasingly becoming the go-to destination for users to read up on news and current events. Their creation has led to the invention of new words and terms, such as ‘fake news’, which Collins English Dictionary named as its phrase of 2017.

8. TV or video streaming

Video streaming sites have soared in popularity in recent years. Sites like Netflix and Amazon Prime have revolutionised the way the world watches TV, while catch-up sites such as ABC iview and SBS On Demand are more traditional examples of this popular type of site.


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Dan’s a Senior Writer at Expert Market, specialising in digital marketing, web design, and photocopiers, amongst other topics.