If your next project is to build a website, it’s helpful to know the different types out there.
Today, we’ll break down 11 popular types of websites. We’ll explain their goals and strategies – plus the best resources and tools to start you off. We’ve been building and testing successful websites for years, which means we’ve tried most of these tools ourselves!
Of course, this isn’t a complete list of ALL the types of website you can build, but it should inspire you to get started!
Type #1 – eCommerce Website
An eCommerce website allows visitors to make online purchases. If you’re planning to sell a product or service through your site, this is probably the type of website for you.
The potential in eCommerce is HUGE, with the industry topping 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars worldwide in 2020.
Since your main goal is sales, it’s important to offer your website visitors an excellent user experience. You’ll need your site to be fast, and it should be easy to browse products and complete transactions smoothly.
On top of building your brand, make sure your site is secure and looks legitimate – for example, by getting a SSL certificate. The easiest way to get started and meet all these needs is to hook yourself up to a reputable eCommerce platform.
- We’re personally fans of WordPress since it’s free and you’ll have access to lots of free plugins like WooCommerce that specialise in eCommerce features. You’ll only need to pay for your domain and web host.
- If you’ve a slightly bigger budget and want to get your site up instantly, we’ve also written a guide on how to set up a Shopify store in 19 minutes.
Type #2 – Blog Website
A blog is a type of website with a focus on regularly-updated written content.
In the early days, blogging was more like keeping an online diary. These days, individuals and businesses use blogs to discuss niche topics, or to share edu-taining content.
In some cases, a blog isn’t a separate website entity. Many businesses maintain a blog as a section of their main business website.
Blogs are usually written in a conversational style. They can help you express your opinions, or build authority in your niche. Some blogs – like Kottke below – simply curate cool content.
Many bloggers earn via showing display ads with networks like Google AdSense. However – if you haven’t got high traffic yet, it can be more lucrative to sell affiliate products, write sponsored content, or sell your own products.
Type #3 – Portfolio Website
Freelancing can be a competitive sport. If you want to stand out in your industry, then a portfolio website will help you show off your best work.
Portfolios work especially well for freelancers that get hired based on demonstrative skills – such as freelance designers, developers and writers.
Not only do online portfolios make it easier to prove yourself to potential clients – they can become a lead generation tool for clients to find YOU. For that reason, it’s important to have a strong contact page or ‘hire me’ page, so clients can easily reach you.
- There are lots of popular portfolio-focused platforms like Behance, that can get a basic portfolio site up and running for you quickly. However, we preferred Zyro from our tests – it comes with established hosting, is search-engine optimized, and has a simple drag-and-drop interface.
Type #4 – Business Website
If you’re a business in this day and age, there’s no excuse not to have a website! Many customers will Google your business before they decide to buy.
Business websites should provide all the details that customers require. If you’re a brick-and-mortar store, then it’s important to include your location and opening hours – for example by using a store finder plug-in or a Google maps integration. Some business websites also allow you to view menus, book services, or place orders online.
The end goal of business websites is generally to generate leads. That means it’s really important to have an excellent contact us page where your customers can get in touch.
Your business website should be aligned with your offline branding too. This means using the same logo, colours and styling.
Type #5 – Non-Profit Website
A non-profit type of website usually represents a charity or cause. It’s the first place people will visit to help them decide if they want to lend their support.
The best non-profit types of websites are good at storytelling. They have strong copy and emotional visuals and videos. Combined, you’ll be able to leave a lasting impression, raise awareness, and encourage users to donate.
Most non-profit websites will now allow people to make a donation online directly.
If you want to offer this, you’ll need some similar functions as an eCommerce website (check above), such as the ability to process transactions and an SSL certificate to show visitors that your site is secure.
Many non-profit websites often also try to get people to sign up for a mailing list. This lets you stay in touch with users who are interested in your cause.
- There are a few website building tools that offer discounts or special offers for accredited non-profits – such as Kinsta (15% off each month) or A2 Hosting (you’ll need to open a support ticket with their team to ask).
- Discover the best WordPress Donation Plugins to safeguard your website and ensure seamless and hassle-free donation processing.
- We’ve also written a guide on writing persuasive content and stories for your website.
Type #6 – Community Forum
Forum types of websites provide an organized way to publish public discussions. Generally, users need to register to be able to take part in the conversation. Topics can range from anything like hobbies and business tips, to fandoms.
Some forums are open and can be viewed by anyone. Some are closed, and require you to sign up as a member in order to even browse topics.
This type of website might appeal to you if you want to build a community.
Many businesses also use forums as a way to nurture self-serving customer support. For example – the Kinsta blog is filled with customers developers actively helping to solve each other’s issues. This helps a business cut down on the support tickets they receive.
Most forums will require some form of moderation against the trusty internet trolls.
- There are some great WordPress plugins that are built specifically for forum websites. BBPress is built by the WordPress team, and is one of the highest-rated forum plugins we saw – with rave reviews on how easy it is to set up and maintain.
- However, WordPress can be tricky for total beginners and you might prefer Wix, which has its own forum functionalities too.
Type #7 – Web Portal
A web portal type of website exists for a very specific purpose for a business, organization, or institution.
They usually bring together information or data in one place where it can be easily accessed by the right people. For example, a school may set up a portal to share updates and resources or let students access their assignments.
Users will need their own specific login to access these portals, and they’ll see a personalized view.
- Web portals will generally involve more complicated programming and design than most of the other websites described on this list.
- You’ll probably want to enlist the help of an experienced web developer. Why not hit up a freelancer on somewhere like TopTal or Stack Overflow?
Type #8 – Media or Entertainment Website
Media and entertainment sites such as Vice, NPR and The Onion are popular for their regularly updated and timely content.
Some examples can include special interest magazines, entertainment websites and news outlets.
Content is queen for these types of sites. Think video content, compelling or thoughtful articles, trending topics, solid journalism, and strong images. These elements will help you find and keep a readership.
A clean layout works well to prevent the reader drowning in content. It also allows articles to be easily searched, categorized and viewed.
This type of site oftens earns via display adverts and brand partnerships. Some also have a paywall – where members need to pay for unlimited reading access.
- There are tonnes of great WordPress themes to help you build a media website that’s content-focused. As this type of website tends to be very media-heavy, make sure you’ve got a solid web host to help contribute to faster loading times.
Type #9 – Educational Website
This type of website is used by educational institutions and course providers.
Some serve as the official website for an existing educational institution – e.g. Stanford University’s website. Others provide online courses on the site itself – e.g. Udemy.
They might offer free courses, paid courses, or a subscription model.
- WordPress has plenty of decent themes (just type ‘education’ into the WordPress theme search bar). They also offer plugins specifically for this genre. For example, LearnPress – a free plugin that can help you create and manage multiple online courses.
- You’ll also want to make learning fun. Some of the most popular education resources like Codecademy and Duolingo use the tactic of gamification.
Type #10 – Personal Website
If you want to center your website around a certain person, you might want to build a personal website.
A common version of this is the ‘infopreneur’ site, where website owners establish themselves as experts, and then sell their expertise.
Typically, the goal of these websites is to build up a ‘knowledge brand’ centered around an individual.
A common strategy to grow your traffic is to offer a mix of free and paid content. You attract people to your site by providing lots of free valuable content. As you build your readership, you can then start to sell products or services. Common forms include ebooks, online courses, consulting, or merchandise.
- Check out our guide on how to make a website to get your site up and running in a flash. We’ve also written a 5-part guide on how to help grow your email marketing list.
Type #11 – Membership Website
A membership website requires visitors to register before they can access private content. Membership can be free, paid, or both.
Some websites allow readers to access a certain amount of content for free, but charge for full access. Like Medium – which makes you pay to read more than 3 articles a month.
Alternatively, you might let members unlock all content for a single payment.
OR, you might even charge for a subscription that needs to be renewed after a certain period of time, for example, on a monthly basis.
There’s even a type of membership site called a ‘drip content’ style, where content is released at certain points in time, rather than being available all at once.
- WordPress has a ton of decent plugins specifically for membership websites. You can easily set up a site on WordPress and install either the MemberPress or Restrict Content Pro plugin.
As you’ve seen from this article, there’s a huge range of types of websites that can be built.
We hope this article has inspired you to see some of the popular options that are available to you – and how you can hope to get started.
Be sure to browse the rest of our content to help build a strong and steady-growing site.