Not all websites are created equal. There’s a massive variety of website types underneath that big “umbrella.” Each one offers its own unique features and benefits, all dependent on the main reason why you’re creating a website in the first place. Below, learn about the types of websites that you can choose from, find out what shapes that choice, and get examples you can use to draw some inspiration for your own venture.
Websites may look similar at the outset, but there are key differences between the types of websites that make them very distinct to you, your business, and your visitors. The following are just some of the website types you can choose from, as well as a use case and design tips for each to help you get started.
What is a blog? A blog is a website where one or more people consistently write long-form content about specialized subjects. Blogs can be about anything, really, with the style reflecting more of an online journal than an informational news page. A blog can be a standalone website, or it can be a part of your business’s website.
What is it best used for? A blog can be used in multiple ways. For some, a blog is a way to reach out to an intended audience and share their ideas about a subject. Meanwhile, companies often have their own blogs to share updates about their products, post press releases, or highlight customer interactions. Regardless of their intended use, blogs are common thanks to their low barrier of entry.
Design best practices: When it comes to designing a blog, two things must be top of mind: how readable your content is and how easy it is for readers to find what they’re looking for. It’s important for your blog to be easily usable and legible. Most blogs typically have a single, wide column prominently featured on the page where all of the content lives, though some opt for a more magazine-style layout where articles are listed and you choose which one you want to read. To encourage readers to keep coming back, consider developing a logo for your blog so it’s easily recognizable, and include an email signup form so folks can get alerts when you publish new content.
Examples: Smitten Kitchen is a food blog that shares a bevy of recipes in both written and video form, with accurately tagged and categorized posts found in a single, readable column. There’s also Tree Hugger, an eco-friendly blog with more than 20,000 posts that gives readers tips and advice for how to live a more sustainable life.
What is a brochure website? At its core, a brochure website is not unlike a business website, albeit for an explicit and tailored purpose — just like a printed brochure. They provide precisely the information someone is looking for, utilizing a brochure-like design to educate visitors.
What is it best used for? Think of a brochure website as an online version of an actual brochure. These are different from business websites because they’re designed for businesses that rely less on online traffic to drive up interest. Creating a brochure website is more to make sure you’re at least online in some capacity. They’re also good for businesses that aren’t conducting any commerce online.
Design best practices: Since they’re likely part of a company’s basic online presence, brochure pages should grab as much attention as they can. Bright colors, striking imagery, and big buttons with calls to action are usually major elements of the design.
Examples: Warefence is a commercial fencing company in the U.K. that has a straightforward brochure website, with direct links to services, a portfolio link, and a contact page. The bookkeeping company Andika takes a similar approach by listing services, pricing, and a way to contact them.
What is a business website? A business website is among the most straightforward types of site on this list. Featuring information on the goods and services your company offers, these sites are often full of additional information, like store hours, news, insights, and other enticing content that you may want to use to try to make a sale with a potential customer.
What is it best used for? If you have a business of any size or in any industry, it’s very likely that you need a business website. As mentioned before, business websites help drive interest in their products or services. They provide background information about the business and let users know how they can get in touch.
Design best practices: Business websites are typically designed to highlight the company’s professional personality. These sites follow the company branding, including the company logo, and the general look and feel established by the business’s brand identity. Remember, this is very likely to be one of the first ways that a potential customer will interact with your company, so form and functionality are important.
Examples: As a digital branding company, MOAT’s site is easy to navigate and understand, featuring big block lettering and highly contrasting colors. Meanwhile, The Balloon Queen has an aptly bubbly aesthetic to match the company’s style.
What is an ecommerce website? If you sell products online, then you need an ecommerce website. Just as the name suggests, these sites are built to facilitate the online sale of goods and services.
What is it best used for? The primary purpose of this type of website is to facilitate the exchange of goods and services. They often offer advanced functionality and security, including a way to accept payments, send order updates to customers, and work with your inventory system to ensure an accurate supply of products is available.
Design best practices: Your ecommerce site should be easy to use and instill confidence that transactions are safe and secure. It is an extension of your business, so it should still reflect your branding. Your products should be easy to find and purchases should be easy to complete. Check out Namecheap’s guide to starting your ecommerce website, if you’re looking for more best practices.
Examples: Welly’s website uses clever design, colors, and user-friendly navigation to entice folks to make purchases of their bandages. And perhaps the king of all things good design, Apple’s ecommerce site prioritizes ease of use and clean aesthetics to gently guide visitors where the website wants them to go — to new releases and product purchases.
What is an entertainment website? Entertainment websites keep us occupied. Whether that’s through funny content, cute images, or relaxing games, an entertainment website’s main priority is to deliver content of interest to folks spending time online.
What is it best used for? If you’re looking to entertain your audience, then you can do things like provide pop culture coverage, focus on a niche hobby, or provide an online haven that facilitates play with an entertainment website.
Design best practices: Since these websites deal in entertainment, they should be fun to visit and unique in design. That means you can have some artistic license with how the site is laid out since it will have to reflect your brand and fan expectations. It’s also important that your website prioritizes the new content first — after all, it’s your content that keeps folks returning time and again.
Examples: The Onion is a satirical site that opted to make its page look like a news site, with articles laid out in an almost New York Times-esque manner — only the articles aren’t serious. Formerly known only for quirky online quizzes, BuzzFeed is an entertainment site that covers everything from TV and movies to hard-hitting news. Their page is simple to navigate and incredibly easy to lose hours in.
What are news or magazine websites? If you’re looking to provide specialized coverage of a topic or area, then a news or magazine website is likely the best type of site to create. These websites focus on publishing news online in a quick manner. Depending on the subject matter, topics can range anywhere from politics and current events to sports and entertainment.
What is it best used for? These sites are used to inform a general group of people about a certain topic. You should have some level of expertise in the topic you want to cover if you want to start this type of website.
Design best practices: News and magazine websites feature articles, photos, and videos in an organized manner that puts the freshest content first. If you’re going for a more newsworthy feel, your website should have a serious design. Magazine sites have a little more leeway with how they look since they’re usually catering to a specific crowd interested in that niche.
Examples: The New York Times is a classic online news website, with fonts that mimic the actual print version’s look, award-winning photos that are prominently displayed, and an easily navigable site. As for a magazine website, Wired is a great magazine-style site with a design that is easy to navigate and read while reflecting its print version as well.
What is a non-profit website? A not-for-profit website is used by these types of organizations to spread the word about the organization and help rally people behind the cause.
What is it best used for? Non-profit websites not only educate visitors about the organization’s cause, but help secure donations and other forms of funding as well. Including information and sources regarding your organization’s stance on an issue lets visitors know why you’re taking on the cause while also showing supporters why your issue matters and how they can join in your efforts.
Design best practices: A non-profit website should accurately portray what the organization is working on. As a result, it should be easy to navigate while clearly articulating what the non-profit does. It’s also important to prominently feature donation tools so visitors moved by your group’s efforts can quickly and securely donate.
Examples: From the get-go, Children International’s website hammers home its commitment to children living in poverty around the world. The design is simple yet striking, with the intent of getting people involved and donating to the cause. Similarly, the ASPCA features pictures of animals that help to create an emotional connection with site visitors.
What is an online forum? This type of site has been around since the early days of the internet when they were called message boards. Online forums allow users to post messages to each other and discuss various topics to their hearts’ content.
What is it best used for? This is best used for anyone looking to create an online community around a topic or drive engagement with users who will generate content for the site.
Design best practices: Your forums should be simple to navigate and the text should be easy to read. Your intent is to have people engaging as much as possible with one another on your forums, so making your site an eyesore would be counterproductive.
Examples: The social media platform Reddit is one of the most prominent examples of an online forum. Communities are highly searchable, there’s a rating system that users can leverage to highlight good content, and it’s almost too easy to stay on there for hours at a time. You can curate your own feed of topics you want to learn about, or you can explore popular topics by region or globally to learn more about other ideas. Similarly, Slashdot is a long-running “news for nerds” online forum that lets people post news stories to start a discussion among the user base.
What is a personal website? As the name would suggest, a personal website is an online haven for your unique content needs. This isn’t for your professional life, but rather a way to share yourself on the internet.
What is it best used for? From sharing vacation photos to writing about your experience traveling the world, a personal website is a great way to put yourself out there. You’re a unique person, so your personal website can reflect that uniqueness through its design depending on your purpose.
Design best practices: Really, the world is your oyster here. As long as it’s aesthetically pleasing, easy to read, and matches your personality, then it’s up to you how the site looks.
Examples: Mr. Money Mustache may seem like an older design aesthetic, but the content is organized precisely as the reader expects to see it. A quick About section and the latest content is right up at the top. Here, Mr. Money Mustache utilizes his personal passion and turns it into a website.
What is a portfolio website? If a personal site is all about you outside of work, a portfolio website is all about you as a professional.
What is it best used for? Portfolio websites are used to showcase past work and achievements, with the intent of attracting potential employers and clients. Many people include links to their portfolios when applying for jobs. This kind of site is particularly important for people in the arts, fashion, and other creative industries.
Design best practices: Just like a personal website, your portfolio should match who you are as a person. Since this is about getting the attention of a potential employer, you want it to reflect the job you’re trying to get. How creative you can get with your portfolio relies entirely on the industry you’re looking to enter.
Examples: Ellen Skye Riley, an illustrator and presentation designer, naturally has a striking portfolio page that highlights herself and her work. A great professional portfolio example is cinematographer Daniel Grindrod’s site, who puts his demo reel front and center on auto-play, so you can’t miss what he’s all about.
What is a wiki? If you’ve ever used Wikipedia, then you already know what a wiki is. These websites offer extensive information about various topics. Though Wikipedia aims to be a comprehensive online encyclopedia, fans of all kinds of media have made their own wikis that are hyper-focused on their topic of choice.
What is it best used for? This type of site is best used by anyone looking to contribute to a fan group that they’re a part of, whether it’s for their favorite anime or the love of repairing specific car models.
Design best practices: Wikis tend to be straightforward, or even a little dry, in terms of design. The goal is to be able to easily search and navigate the subjects on the wiki, and the sites are organized to support that goal.
Examples: Many gamers are aware of Fextra Life, a gaming wiki that focuses on role-playing games and the incredibly difficult Dark Souls games by meticulously outlining how those games work and how to traverse them. Some of the world’s biggest television shows, like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, have their own dedicated wikis that go into great detail about characters and their storylines.
When you’re in the early stages of planning out your website, it’s important to know your “why.” Starting a website with a clear purpose and roadmap ensures success once you’re done with the design process. Three things that drive the decision to pick a type of website include:
The type of website you ultimately decide to make is up to you and your needs. Through the Namecheap Site Maker, your website can take form in just a few minutes, with promised 99.9% uptime, a free domain, and security measures like a dedicated SSL certificate. By carefully considering what you want to do online, you can create a unique space on the internet that accurately depicts what you and your business are all about — no coding skills required.