Thinking of creating a website? You’ve got the right idea. There’s no greater real-estate to promote your business, share information, and connect with the world than to have an online presence.
But what type of site should you build? What platform is best to use? We’ve got you.
In this article, we’ll explore the most popular types of websites, how to design them, and frequently asked questions about website design.
Why Build a Website?
We all know by now that the most effective way to share information in the modern world is online. There’s a website for almost anything you can think of (seriously). There are different types of websites that share information, help you learn, purchase services and products, reach audiences, create community, develop skills, and be entertained.
If you’re thinking of creating a website, you’re already a little late to the game (but this doesn’t mean it won’t be successful). According to the Internet Live Stats, there are well over 1.9 billion websites, and that number is rapidly growing by the second.
Websites came about in 1991 with the very first site being a website about how to use the world wide web. Since then, the people creating websites shifted radically from just big businesses to individuals and organizations creating their own websites.
The advent of super-easy template-based website building allowed anyone to create a site within minutes for free. Whereas in the past you needed to understand complex coding or have expert web design skills, all you need now is an internet connection.
So, why create a website? It’s a valuable piece of online real estate that’ll allow you to share important information, create community, reach your audience, and all of the other use-cases we shared above.
It really depends on what your goals are – whether you’re an individual creating a personal website, or looking to expand your business and reach new markets.
As we describe the most popular types of websites in this article, you’ll become more clear on why you want a site, how it can benefit you, and what type of website is the right one to create. Beyond that, we’ll share how to go about designing and publishing each website type.
14 Popular Types of Websites
As one of the most simple website types you can create, a blog is a site that showcases written content on different subjects for people to read and comment on. These blog posts can be short-form quick reads or longer content that contains a lot of information, research, and ideas.
Often displayed with visual elements like photos, drawings, and even video, they are meant to educate and entertain the reader. Successful blogs with large readership come in all shapes and sizes. Vlogging is a video format of a blog, often found on YouTube and other video hosting platforms.
They are generally focused on a core topic, like vegan recipes, travel tips, tech reviews, fitness lifestyle information – you get the drift. There are personal-style blogs to share about life milestones (like a public diary) and more business-based blogs that leverage the readers to become leads and eventually loyal customers.
It hasn’t taken long for people to catch on to the value of blogging, as there are about 7 million blog posts published each day. And, based on stats from the popular blog hosting platforms of WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Wix, and more, there were approximately 570 million blogs active on the internet as of 2021.
How to Design a Blog Website
The common way to publish a blog website is to use a Content Management System (CMS) that is specifically designed to host blog content with their in-built templates.
The most popular blog CMS is WordPress, with two options (WordPress.com and WordPress.org). You can get a free or paid plan, which will offer different features like creating membership portals, personal branding, and SEO tools to make it easy for people to find your blog online.
Most Popular Blog Hosting Sites
- WordPress.com Free, template-based sites for beginner bloggers. Paid templates are available, too. This option provides a lot of customization options, but require setting up a host, purchasing a domain, and managing updates and website security.
- WordPress.org Free templates also, with more options for support and more freedom in what you create. Usually for serious bloggers.
- Blogger.com Another simple Free content platform, run by Google.
- Hubspot CMS A Content Management System for marketers who want to stay inside of the Hubspot ecosystem and don’t need much custom functionality
- Squarespace.com An excellent option for users who don’t want to worry about things like coding, plugins, or setting up hosting.
- Webflow.com A no-code visual website builder for users who want to be able to customize their website easily with managed hosting
- Wix.com One of the easiest CMS for beginners. Simple, with not as much freedom as WordPress in design tools. Free and Paid versions.
- Tumblr.com Best site for microblogging – very short-form content. They can be personal blogs curated around different interests or bite-sized info that directs to the longer-form content from another website.
- Medium.com Simple writing platform. Easily shareable, but not hosted on your own site.
There are many other tips and tricks to optimize your blog content and get noticed – explore them in this guide by theblogstarter.
A great example of a comprehensive lifestyle blog is Lee From America.
2. Business Websites
A business website (also referred to as a corporate website) is focused on being a resource to showcase a business and allow people to find information about it and interact with the business. It will be branded in line with the company (using the logo, imagery, colors, fonts, etc) and contain different pages with information about what the business offers.
Most business websites will contain an ‘about’ page, information on the founders, contact information, and sometimes articles and other media to share about the industry. Potential customers and clients will be searching for the business, whether specifically that company or a company that is providing the service/products that they need.
Every business should have a website so that they aren’t missing out on the opportunity to be found and to direct potential clients to what they have to offer. If you have an established business but people are unable to find a website, the business will be seen as less legitimate and professional. Maintaining an online presence is essential to be taken seriously.
Even if you don’t feel that you need a business website to gain new leads and clients, it is still an important validation tool to position your business as an authority.
How to Design a Business Website
Building a business website can be simple and straightforward, using a template-based CMS like WordPress, Wix, or Squarespace. With these platforms that offer template blocks to design from, there will always be limitations in what you can include and the functionality of the site.
The most important thing to think about in designing your business website is to make it as on-brand as possible. Make sure the flow is intuitive and very simple to navigate, and that when someone enters the site, they instantly recognize the tone, color, and feel as aligned with your brand personality.
If the business has the budget to hire a professional, this is where web developers can help to code the business site to have more unique elements.
Qualified is a good example of a mid-sized business website.
3. Portfolio Website
These websites are created to showcase the work of individuals and organizations. Think of a photographer having a digital gallery to show their work – this is what the portfolio does. It’s a way to display the work in a structured online gallery.
For example, writers can also have a portfolio website that links to various articles and publications that they have written for. Just as a physical portfolio is used as a tool to get more clients, this is the purpose of an online portfolio website.
Think of it like a digital (often visual) CV. People who will use a portfolio website will include artists, designers, filmmakers, builders – creative people making cool things!
How to Design a Portfolio Website
A key tip is to not include every single project that’s been worked on (unless you have limited experience and only a few pieces to show). If your experience is vast and you have a lot that you could potentially share, pick out the most successful projects – essentially put your best foot forward by showcasing the best, and a variety of projects if you want to display your range.
It will be valuable to include testimonials from happy customers/clients on the portfolio site as well. The main thing you need to remember is to let your work stand out. Keep it simple in how you display the work, but also inject some personality into it with more creative design, especially if your work is in a very creative field.
You can use the same CMS sites that we’ve mentioned above to build out a portfolio website. Check out this writer’s portfolio website example.
4. NGO/Non-Profit Website
Similar to the need of a business needed a website to be seen as more reputable, an NGO/Non-Profit Organisation should definitely create a website. This demonstrates their legitimacy, as well as gives people easy access to donate to the cause.
It can also be a space to keep people up to date with news and current affairs related to the industry that the organization is serving. This can be done through a blog portal or also a newsletter to people who have submitted their contact details to stay in touch with the cause.
How to Design an NGO/Non-Profit Website
These websites should include information on what the organization contributes to, how the donations are used, and what is needed to support the efforts of the organization. It’s a good idea to showcase the founders/members of the organization, as well as provide contact information and a portal to submit a donation online.
The site should be created before the NGO/Non-Profit assembles the organization, or at the same time. That way, anyone hearing about it and considering donating or volunteering can be comforted by the credibility of the organization straight away.
Many organizations will save on costs and use a template-based website builder like Wix or WordPress, rather than hire a developer to create something more complex (and expensive).
Here’s a good example of an NGO website that shares all the information and resources related to the organization in a clean and professional design.
5. Community Forums
Forum websites come in all shapes and sizes – they’re a space of social interaction and information sharing. These websites are less about the creator of the site sharing a particular viewpoint, and rather about creating a portal to facilitate discussion between the public.
People gather on forums to connect with others who have a similar interest, ask questions, or answer others’ queries. The entire forum can be dedicated to a specific topic, or it can have sub-groups (often called threads) where the topics are focused.
How to Design a Community Forum
There are actually templates for designing a specific forum site that makes it super easy to create a community forum. Check out the Wix Forum developer or Vanilla Forums.
Arguably the most popular web forum that’s been around the past decade is Reddit. It’s a multi-topic forum where people will create threads on literally any topic they choose.
6. Web Portals
This is a unique type of website as it’s not for public consumption. Rather than be out in the open for anyone to find on google to another search engine, these sites are used for internal purposes. They’re often created by organizations/companies to be a space for a select group of people to access. They generally function by having a login for members to access the portal and get the information they need, be educated, sign-up for events, connect with others in the community, and more.
Types of Web Portals
There are Vertical, Horizontal, Enterprise, and MarketSpace web portals. The vertical web portals focus on a specific industry/domain.
An example of a vertical portal is Chemindustry.com. The portals that come under the vertical category are corporate portals, commerce portals, and knowledge portals.
The horizontal web portals target a much larger audience, often called ‘mega portals.’ Yahoo.com is an example of a horizontal web portal.
Enterprise portals are used to enhance the internal functioning of a company.
MarketSpace web portals are designed for B2B and B2C e-commerce relations. EC21 is a good example of a global MarketSpace portal.
How to Design a Web Portal
The most common way to design a web portal is to use portal software that integrates with your website. Some of these include the popular software Azure Portal, LiveAgent, Zoho Creator, Confluence, and Samepage.
Some website builders like Wix allow you to create a simple web portal as part of their internal apps. Similarly, WordPress uses a range of plug-ins for this purpose. For more in-depth information and tips to create a web portal, check out this guide.
7. Landing Pages
A landing page is one of the most simple types of websites you can create. People will often refer to the first point of contact with a website as the landing page, since that’s where they land! If we’re talking about a landing page as its own type of site (rather than just the homepage), it’s a single page of content without links to additional pages, like a regular website would have in its menu bar.
The purpose of a specific landing page is focused; it will be where people sign up to a mailing list or course, put their name down to express interest in something, or directly make a purchase. For effective lead generation, a landing page shouldn’t be ignored.
It’s a key component of any conversion funnel. To have people be directed to a simple landing page where they have no other choices to navigate to other pages saves them from distraction. This allows the CTA to be the main focus (sign-up, purchase, etc).
How to Design a Landing Page
With a landing page, you don’t need a complete domain URL for it like other types of websites. Instead, you can use an online platform. Some of the most common landing page builders are Unbounce, Mailchimp, Wix, Kartra, and Moosend.
8. Directory Websites
A web directory site helps guide people to resources, companies, products, individuals, and other information. It includes a list of whatever the specific directory is about, with all relevant contact information for people to access what they’re looking for.
An example of a simple directory website would be a local restaurant directory that has reviews, contact information, price info, photos, the menu, and more about each establishment. It’s sort of like a search engine, but the difference is that a web directory has been curated intentionally by humans (for the most part).
A search engine runs from code and algorithms. Also, with a search engine, the content can be varied and not really specific or properly organized for the searcher. With a directory, it’s formatted in such a way that it returns very clear categorized information (like the restaurant example we gave).
Directory Website Examples
The World Wide Web Virtual Library: this one has been around since the very first website in 1991, giving it the prize for the oldest web directory of all time. It was created by the founder of HTML, Tim Berners-Lee.
Ezilon: Information and resources are categorized by region and topic type (like sports, news, health, etc).
Tripadvisor: One of the most popular travel directories which highlights reviews from real travelers.
DirectoryCar.com: Automotive industry news, information, and other resources.
The Bridal Life: A directory focused on everything you need to know to plan a wedding.
How to Design a Directory Website
One of the most accessible ways to create this type of website would be to get a WordPress site and then install a directory theme from the themes library. There will be free and paid themes to choose from.
Another way to create a directory site is to hire a developer and get it coded, but this option costs more. If you choose to use WordPress to create the directory site, you can follow this step-by-step guide.
9. Crowdfunding Websites
A crowdfunding website is essential for anyone with a campaign to raise funds from public donations. The website will include information about the event/purpose that the funding is contributing to, the person or group who is hosting the campaign, and ways for people to donate.
How to Design a Crowdfunding Website
The most popular way to do this is to actually use a crowdfunding host, rather than create your own website from scratch. Beyond not having to worry about creating payment portals, it’s valuable to use one of these sites as you also don’t need your own domain name. The following crowdfunding platforms are the most common sites people use to host their campaigns.
Do crowdfunding platforms charge a fee?
Yes, all crowdfunding sites will have different fees to use them. Some will have a subscription fee (one-time, monthly, or annual). There is often a platform fee, where the host takes a small percentage of each donation. This can also be where the donor is charged this fee, instead of the person leading the campaign. Then there is a processor fee where the transactions will cost a percentage of the donation.
10. E-Commerce Websites
An E-commerce website is where users make purchases for products online. Any business that wants to sell products on an online marketplace will need to create or use an E-commerce site. Whereas in the past it used to be a lot of effort to create this kind of website, the advancements in web tech have made it simple for anyone to start selling online.
Amazon comes to mind when considering the top global e-commerce sites. The choice to develop your own site through complex coding, or use one of the popular e-commerce platforms will depend on the budget of your business.
How to Design an E-Commerce Website
One of the most common platforms people use for e-commerce is Shopify, which has all the features you need like a gallery to display inventory, a shopping cart, and a payment portal. These website platforms have different templates for making the design more unique, as well as scales for pricing depending on how many products you’re going to be selling.
Other popular E-Commerce platforms include:
A comprehensive comparison of the top E-commerce sites with reviews can be found here.
11. Educational Websites
There are different types of education websites, from online course hosting platforms to professional websites held by a private organization to educate on a specific topic. Some educational websites have a membership model where users pay a subscription fee to access online courses. Others provide a marketplace of courses for people to choose and purchase.
How to Design an Educational Website
If you want to handle the web design of the educational website yourself, you could create your own website with the top CMS sites we’ve shared earlier in the article. The most common route to take is to use one of the educational website hosting platforms.
These are the most common choice for individuals and organizations as they handle site development. All you need to do is add the content and set the prices. They are usually run by a subscription model, where you’ll pay monthly or annually to be part of the platform.
Common platforms for educational content:
12. Entertainment Website
Entertainment sites are full of regularly updated content for people to view, read, and consume to entertain themselves. Some sites are purely based on making people laugh, sharing strange news, or offering a space for people to interact in comments and discussion portals. Most entertainment sites are made profitable by advertisements posted on the site, as well as paid promotions and affiliate content on the site.
Additionally, we could consider a news website as a form of entertainment site, but it depends on the industry. If you’re thinking about popular culture news, that’s where it’s an entertainment site. However, you could also categorize a news site as an educational or even magazine website, depending on the content.
How to Design an Entertainment Website
Platforms like WordPress, Blogger, and Wix would all work to build out an entertainment website. The important thing to consider about the functionality of an entertainment site is that it should be updated regularly. When choosing the web platform, make sure it’s one that allows easy updates daily or multiple times a day. Here are some more helpful tips to build out an entertainment website.
13. Social Media Websites
We couldn’t talk about online sites and not mention the giants of the interactive online world that are social media websites. We all know and use them – Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter… you get the picture.
As of January 2022, there are over 4.62 billion social media users globally. That is almost 60% of the entire population of the world.
These websites serve many different purposes. They’re for users to connect to other people and interact and they’re for brands and companies to share information and market their products and services. Whether it’s a small business or a huge company, everyone should be leveraging social media websites to build their audience.
How to Design a Social Media Website
Now, if you’re looking to simply have your own social media handle, that’s easy. Any business or individual can create their own profile with these social media platforms. However, when it comes to building out a social media site, that’s a whole different ballgame. That will require some heavy backend development with special coding. You’d need a web developer for that.
14. Magazine Websites
Finally, a magazine website is fast overtaking the physical magazine publications of the past. Although people do still buy a physical newspaper or magazine, digital news and special interest consumption is growing by the day. The magazine website type is suited to informational and hobby brands and businesses, as well as organizations and higher-education publications.
How to Design a Magazine Website
Using one of the popular CMS platforms like WordPress or Squarespace, you’d create a site that has multiple pages split into categories for people to browse through the content easily. The homepage will stay in the same format always and highlight the most updated and fresh content. Check out these 10 steps to create an online magazine for more in-depth guidance.
Type of Websites FAQ
How much does it cost to make a website?
There’s no one answer to this question. It’s going to depend on the platform you use and the purpose of the website. A simple landing page can be completely free to create. However, a comprehensive E-Commerce site could be upwards of $10,000 if you use a professional web developer. Simple websites with basic features are usually a couple of hundred dollars for an annual subscription.
Should I use a website builder or CMS?
There are two main web design routes to go down when you consider building a website. The examples we shared above in the different types of websites are a mixture of CMS and website builders.
A CMS is the best option for more large-scale complex websites that publish regularly updated content. If you have an entertainment site or in-depth blog and want to use pre-built templates and add in extra features through plug-ins or specialized coding, a CMS is a way to go.
A website builder uses a drag and drop function that makes it more simple to develop a website, but gives less flexibility to personalize the site. These are good for landing pages, small business sites, and portfolio websites.
Can I build a website myself?
You sure can! Using website builders like Wix, Weebly, and Elementor is very easy and intuitive. Most small businesses will choose to use a website builder for their site.
What does a website developer do?
Many website developers are freelancers that are hired to build out sites for individuals and companies. They handle the entire backend coding using complex web development languages to create your site with the desired features. They’re responsible for the navigation, visual design, and functionality of the website.
How much does a website developer cost?
It really depends on who you hire and on what contract basis you’re hiring them. If you hire a freelancer for a one-time project for web development, that cost will be very different from hiring a web developer to work with you to regularly update content on an ongoing basis.
Aside from the cost of the domain and the web hosting platform that you will need to pay, the salary of a web developer can vary from around $500 to $1,000 and up. This guide is a helpful resource for average rates for web developers.
How Should I Build my Website? (We can help!)
It’s a lot to think about when considering the type of website to build, which route to go down to have it ready to publish. This is why so many people get help creating a website. You’ll save a lot of time and energy, and also have confidence that you’re doing it right (rather than worrying about whether the site will work properly or be found on search engines).
Plus, when you consider the complexities of SEO in web design, it’s even more valuable to get experts to consult with or handle the development of your website.
We’ve got the tools and people to help! To learn more about what we can do for your web design, schedule an introductory call with our founder, David, here.