On August 6, 1991, the first website went live. It was a simple website that explained what the World Wide Web project was and was created by Tim Berners-Lee. It was simple text and hyperlinks without any graphics.
Originally, websites were information only. They were made of simple text and hyperlinks. Over time, graphics began to be added to the mix. When Berners-Lee created that first website, he likely didn’t realize what it would one day morph into. Today, there are a wide variety of different types of websites.
There are two basic categories of websites, including those built with a particular building method and those created with a specific purpose in mind. Within each of those categories are more specific types, such as static websites, dynamic sites, sites built on a framework and sites with a specific purpose, such as a photo sharing site or a personal blog.
Each type of website is outlined in detail below to help you decide which would work best for your purposes.
Types of Websites According to the Building Method
One way to classify websites is according to the building method used to create that site. There are essentially three types of building methods for websites: static, dynamic built from scratch, and dynamic built on a framework.
A static website keeps the same content and layout from web server request to web server request. The only way to change the content is if the site’s webmaster changes the content on the page and re-uploads it to the server.
- A static website is a very basic site. This means it is typically much cheaper to build than a more advanced site.
- The files are stored on the web server.
- Creating a static website typically requires some knowledge of codings, such as HTML and CSS.
Pros of a static website include that it is less prone to errors, lower costs, and even those on slower Internet speeds can browse the site easily. Cons include that the site will not interact with the site visitor, requires coding knowledge to update, and content can get stagnant quickly.
Dynamic Website: Built from Scratch
A dynamic website offers custom options and changes frequently when certain items occur. Some key points about dynamic websites include:
- A dynamic website is user-friendly because it can adapt to each user’s preferences.
- However, a dynamic site built from scratch is typically more expensive and time intensive to build.
- A dynamic website offers a content management platform or other systems that allow others to collaborate quickly and contribute content to the site.
There are some definite advantages to a dynamic website built from scratch, including that once the website is built, most updates can be handled in-house and thus save the company money over time. If you have a lot of products to list, then this can be an ideal solution for continuously updating your inventory without having to pay someone continually to complete those updates.
Having the website built from scratch affords the opportunity for unlimited modules and customization that meets your users’ needs.
Dynamic Website: Built on a Framework
If your needs are a bit more basic, but you’d still like a dynamic website, you can go with one of the many frameworks already available and customize that framework to meet your needs.
- The framework of the site is already there, so developing the site is much quicker than building a dynamic website from scratch.
- The framework model still offers a site that changes dynamically based on the user’s actions.
- However, you still have the opportunity for ongoing fresh content and personalization for site visitors.
Some of the frameworks commonly used include platforms such as Joomla, Drupal, or even a blog engine such as WordPress.
Costs for Different Types of Sites
The cost of building a website can vary widely, depending upon the area you live in, the amount of content you wish to add to your site, and the level of customization involved.
Forbes points to the problem with trying to pin down an accurate cost for a website. Building a website is a service and because each site is such a unique design and process, the amount of time it takes to build that site can vary widely.
What the designer charges can also vary the cost of building a website. For example, some designers only charge $35-$40/hour, while others charge $100/hour or more. A lot depends on the complexity of the site. A site that requires advanced coding will usually garner a higher per hour rate to build.
There are some essential components to a website that you can count on having to pay:
- Domain name – You have to pay for the right to use the domain name through a domain registration service, such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions. This is typically renewable each year and can run between $10 – $30/year. If you’re paying more than that, then you’re probably paying too much.
- Website hosting – This is the space where your website files live. The costs for this also vary, depending upon how large your site is (i.e. how much space you need), the quality of the server, and your website traffic (bandwidth used).
- Design and development – Your web designer will put many hours into helping you. It all starts with an initial consultation to figure out what your vision for your website is. He or she will then offer some mockup designs from which you can choose. The process goes on for developing the site, tweaking anything that needs changing, and posting and proofreading your content.
- Website maintenance – From time to time, you may want to add new features to your site or do some minor updates. This type of work is typically charged by the hour as needed.
As you can see, there are a lot of variables that come into play when figuring out how much a website will cost to build. An experienced web designer should be able to give you a ballpark figure based on your description of the final site. Prices can vary from under $1000 for a very basic, static website with just a few pages to tens of thousands for a more advanced, dynamic site with a lot of content.
Types of Websites According to Purpose or Function
There are many different purposes for websites. According to Internet Live Stats, there are over 974 million websites on the Internet that are active. That’s nearly a billion websites, and that number seems to grow each day. With numbers like that, it isn’t too surprising that there are so many different functions for these websites.
A personal website is simply a site created to share information about yourself, your family, or an event. An example of this would be an online diary or a wedding website. Most people who create this type of site create it on space available for free via their Internet provider or another free site.
- Typically does not have a registered domain. Instead of MyName.com, the address is provider.com/freespace/~myname
- Not a good choice for businesses as the name is harder for search engines to discover and customers to remember.
- Free space is usually very limited, so the site will need to remain small.
There are also services that allow you to create a site for free in this manner, such as Wix.com and WordPress.com for a blog.
On the other hand, a corporate website typically has the sole purpose of promoting a business. This type of site is customized and tends to have the following features:
- Custom domain name, such as CorporateWebsite.com
- Custom design that shows the company logo and personality of the company
- Products for sale on the site
- Information about the company
- Information on how to contact the company
The building method for a corporate website can vary, but the purpose is to have an online business presence.
Photo Sharing Websites
According to the Pew Research Center, 54% of adults online post photos and videos online to share with others. 47% repost photos they’ve found online on sites meant specifically to share those images with others.
It’s easy to see why photo sharing sites are popular. Some examples of photo sharing sites include:
- Instagram (app used via smartphones)
- Facebook (most popular)
Websites for creative types tend to have a couple of unique features. First, the personality of the artist is front and center. You’ll likely see the author or artist’s photograph and bio front and center. Other features of the site might include:
- Large images of artwork or book cover
- Samples of work
- Where to order the book or artwork
There are also sites that compile info on many different writers or artists in one place. An example of this is on Amazon.com, where artist bios are posted for readers to browse. These bios link to the author’s work that is for sale on Amazon so that people can easily order the product offered.
Community Building Sites
A community building site is usually built around a common interest or purpose. These sites tend to:
- Offer information on a particular topic
- Provide a way for users to interact with one another via a forum of some type
A good example of a community building site would be LowCarbFriends.com. This site is aimed at people who wish to eat low carb. It provides information in the way of articles and recipes and also has an active forum area where users can interact with one another.
Mobile Device Sites
Google recommends that web developers make their websites mobile friendly. This is vital as more and more people are accessing the Internet online. A mobile device site is quite simply the same thing as your website, but with some adjustments to make sure the site is sized for mobile devices.
Not sure if your site appears correctly on smaller screens? You can test how your site looks on mobile devices via Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test feature.
Blogs and Online Diaries
Blogs and online diaries tend to be built on WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) platforms, such as WordPress or Blogger. These platforms are very simple to update because posts are created in a form that works very much like a popular word processing programs that users are already familiar with.
- Blogs can be about any topic
- Can be monetized to create a money-making strategy
Some examples of popular blogs include the Huffington Post and Perez Hilton.
Social Network Sites
Around 76% of Americans use social media sites today. Social network sites are highly popular. It is simply a site where you connect with others by “friending” or “following” the person. You can then share thoughts, photos, videos and memes with one another.
Examples of social network sites include Facebook and Twitter.
Professional Networking Sites
A professional networking site is started with the express purpose of allowing professionals to network with one another. The site might be focused on a particular industry or more general in nature, such as LinkedIn, where business professionals from many different industries can interact with one another.
In addition to sites specifically for networking, many professional organizations offer networking within their members only areas of their websites. Only those who are members can access this section of the site.
Informational and Reference Sites
Another purpose for a website is to create a depository for information or reference. These sites can be on nearly any topic you can imagine, from a site about how to play golf to an online dictionary. These sites tend to be free from products for sale, but there is no set rule against selling items on them.
Some examples of these types of sites include Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica online.
Affiliate Type Websites
An affiliate website can take one of two forms. First, it can be a site that lists different affiliate opportunities. Second, it can be a website where the user is promoting their affiliate links to try to earn money.
An example of a site that offers the opportunity to sell their products would be ClickBank.com.
On the other hand, if you plan to set up a site simply to drive traffic to your affiliate links, it’s a good idea to make sure you are offering something of value to the reader, such as unique content.
Brochure/Catalog Type Websites
Businesses sometimes set up a brochure or catalog website to feature the products they have for sale. These sites may not even have a link to order them. Sometimes local businesses will offer these types of sites so customers can gather information before visiting a brick and mortar store. Types of businesses who might utilize this purpose include:
- Service business, such as a heating and cooling service, to get the word out to what they have to offer and how to get in touch
- Restaurant posting an online menu so customers can see what food choices are available or what hours they are open
Catalog sites that list products more likely also offer some online ordering.
Search Engines and Directory Sites
A search engine or directory site allows a user to type in a specific search term or topic and will return results based on which sites offer the best content related to that search. There are some pretty advanced equations (called algorithms) that go into figuring out which site matches the search phrase the best.
Examples of search engines include Google.com and Bing.com.
eCommerce and Auction Sites
eCommerce and auction sites offer a place or people to list their products and sell them, usually for a small fee to the website. These sites tend to attract a lot of traffic as registered users both buy and sell on these sites.
Examples of eCommerce sites include Amazon.com and Etsy.com.
Business Card Type Websites
A business card website is probably one of the simplest websites out there right now. This type of website is typically a one-page site and offers the person’s name, what they do and contact information.
- Typically, the business card will be a page that is part of a larger site
- The business card might also simply be in PDF so it can easily be sent to potential clients via email or attachment on social media
OrionGraphix offers an example of an online business card to show the products it offers.
Folio Type Websites
A folio type website is an excellent way to showcase what you’re capable of. Public relations professionals and those who do service work often create a folio site to showcase what they can do. A typical folio site:
- Features rich images that showcase what the site owner can do
- Offers additional information by clicking on those images
- Images are often arranged on the front page in a collage, slideshow, or boxes
There are also sites that offer the ability to upload a folio, such as if you are a photographer and want to put your work in front of other people. Some examples of these types of sites include FluidFolio.com and BigFolio.com.
Forum Type Websites
A forum website focuses on allowing users to communicate with one another or the site to contact its members. This type of site tends to be centered on a community of very active users and some moderators who understand the topic in-depth and can answer questions.
One example of a forum type website is DodgersList.com where people who have dogs with back problems join and ask for help, and the site moderators offer advice and feedback on crate rest, medications to ask your vet about, and other treatment options.
News Type Websites
A news type website tends to focus on a niche area and offers information in the same format it might be provided in a newspaper or magazine, but online. These sites tend to update frequently and offer both content and photographs.
Examples of news type websites include BuzzFeed.com and MakeUseOf.com.
Review Type Websites
Review websites focus on reviewing products or services. These sites can be more general in nature, such as Consumer Reports, which reviews a wide variety of products, or can be specific and allow customers to review items as well, such as GoodReads, which allows registered users to add their reviews and ratings of books.
File Sharing Sites
File sharing sites have become popular as more and more people are doing business globally. An entrepreneur in the United States can collaborate with a researcher in Germany on a report, and they can share information and files via sites that allow them to send quickly files back and forth.
Sites like Google Drive and DropBox allow multiple users to make changes and save them to the same file.
Event Sharing Sites
Event sharing sites are the perfect fit for people looking to share photos from an event or coordinate efforts. These sites tend to offer multiple features, including the ability to send out e-vites as well as upload photos and memories from the event.
They can also be used to share public events so that others can find out what is going on in their area on any given day.
Some examples of different event sharing sites include MeetUp.com, Eventbrite.com, and DropEvent.com.
Importance of Making Sure Your Type is Compatible with Mobile Devices
According to Smart Insights, mobile media usage, as of July 2015, is now a bit higher than desktop usage. This means that it is no longer a question of if you should make sure your site is compatible with mobile media, but it is a necessity if you want to continue to reach more browsers and grow your brand.
The only way to ensure your site will adapt to the changes in mobile device usage is to make sure your website is responsive. That simply means that if your site is viewed in a small window that the text adjusts itself to that. You may need to hire a professional website designer to ensure that your site is responsive based on the way the user is accessing your site.
Choosing the type of website to build is often a matter of budget. There is nothing wrong with starting small with a static, but responsive website design and eventually creating a more dynamic website as your business grows. The important thing is to find a designer that is functional for your company and that your users will find easy to use.