Understanding Different Types of Websites
Although most people likely envision the same thing when they hear the term 'website', we've found that a 'website' could take many forms. Beyond decisions around the languages and technologies you use in building your website, there are a few key 'categories' of websites one might want to consider. These categories often align with the type of business you run or the objective you have for your website. Here is an overview of the website 'types' we've developed:
Go to most modern professional service company website and you'll likely see a 'CMS Website', a website that is built on a content management system such as WordPress. These sites have many pages of content that adhere to specific 'templates' that dictate their structure, aesthetic and functionality. CMS Websites are common for any organization that changes their content on a semi-frequent basis.
Although often found as a portion of a larger CMS Website, a blog can live as a stand-alone entity through platforms such as Tumblr. When dealing strictly with a blog, you find they often adhere to the chronologically-structure 'post' format.
Click most ads via Google AdWords and you'll likely be driven to a 'landing page'. These are 'websites' (really just a webpage) that have a very specific purpose. Most often it's to get you to buy something or sign up for an offer. Similar to a blog, a landing page might exist as part of a larger CMS Website or on a stand-alone platform such as Unbounce.
You could think of a microsite as a more robust 'landing page'. The intention for the user might not be as specific as a landing page, but these are often single-page 'websites' with very focused content. We often employ a narrative-driven strategy to the design of these websites given their inherently linear structure.
Websites that also include the ability to purchase a product online would be considered an 'ecommerce website'. Although there are a variety of ecommerce models out-there, the most common is the Shopping Cart (think Amazon), where the user can add products to a cart and 'checkout' to submit their payment. Platforms such as Shopify make setting up and managing these types of websites very simple.
For websites that are in-and-of-themselves the 'product' (think Facebook or Gmail), you're looking at a web application. Although these also fall into the bucket of 'websites', they're really more in-line with software (such as a program on your desktop) that just happens to run online. We typically view anything that doesn't fit into one of the above categories as something that belongs in the 'web application bucket' as their is inherently more complexity with these types of projects.
Although there is considerable more nuisance and a lot of grey area in defining the above, it's helpful to start any project with a clear understanding of what it is that you're actually building. Often something as simple as a landing page can be a more cost-effective alternative to a full-on website when dealing with smaller projects, such as an individual marketing campaign. Be sure to know your options and choose the right type of site going into your project.