What type of website do you have? What is the website’s primary purpose? In this article, we will see 7 common types of websites, and encourage you to pause and think about the purpose of your business website.
Why is it important to know the purpose of a website?
Building and maintaining a high-quality, user-friendly website often involves a significant investment of time (if you build it yourself) and money (if you pay someone to help you).
Beyond the investment of time and money, your website is also the public face of your business, organization, or brand — online, at least. Getting clear about the intended purpose of your website is a critically important first step in defining a clear strategy for your website.
Once you know the purpose of your website, you can move on to more detailed questions about your target audience and what you want those audience members to do when they land on your website.
This, in turn, unlocks your ability to set goals for your website and will help you understand how to measure the success of your website.
Got it? If you — as a business owner, a nonprofit leader, or anyone with a web presence — want to take a more strategic approach to manage your website start by getting clear about your website’s purpose. Then clarity about your target audience, conversion actions, goals, and measurement will follow!
Business Website purpose: 7 types of website
We start most of our digital marketing strategy conversations with a discussion about website purpose. To help get the conversation moving, we share this list of seven common types of websites.
- Sales: “The purpose of our website is to sell _____”
- Lead Generation: “The purpose of our website to generate leads for ____”
- Information: “The purpose of our website is to inform users about _____”
- Entertainment: “The purpose of our website is to entertain users with ____”
- Service: “The purpose of our website is to serve users by providing _____”
- Presentation: “The purpose of our website is to present _____”
- Connection: “The purpose of our website is to connect _____ with _____”
Of course, it’s common for a business or organizational website to combine more than one of these purposes. However, it’s usually possible to identify one purpose as the primary purpose.
Let’s look at an example of each:
1. Sales: an ecommerce website
The primary purpose of any eCommerce website is likely sales. The website exists to sell products or services online. Success in achieving this primary purpose will require clear communication of the value users will realize by making a purchase, as well as a user-friendly checkout and payment process.
2. Lead generation: an independent consultant’s website
Many businesses use their website to attract leads or prospects, but don’t actually close the sale online. Instead, the purpose of the website is to attract qualified leads and allow them to submit their information to the business, who will then follow up with a sales call.
Examples might include an independent consultant or coach, a therapist, an attorney, or a household appliance repair business — all of these business owners can benefit from a website that attracts qualified customers or clients and allows them to submit a contact form or service request to the business owner. The key distinction from a sales website is that for a website with the primary purpose of lead generation, the eventual sale of products or services often happens away from the website — either in person or mediated through email or a phone call.
3. Information: a news website
Many of the internet’s largest websites are driven by the primary purpose of informing or educating users. Most news-focused media organization websites fall into this category (unless they’ve crossed the line from news into entertainment …)
4. Entertainment: a video streaming website
Many more popular websites exist to entertain their users. Video streaming websites, both paid and free (AKA paid for with advertising), fall into this category.
5. Service: a government website
This one’s a bit more nuanced but worth pulling out as a separate category. Websites, where the primary purpose is delivering a service (but not necessarily selling), include government websites, or nonprofit organizations. Think of your state Department of Motor Vehicles website, or the government agency websites you use to access unemployment or housing benefits.
Nonprofit organization websites also often have a service as a primary purpose, alongside raising money to support the service delivery.
6. Presentation: a portfolio website
The primary purpose for some websites is simply to present, share, or display some information or content online. An artist’s portfolio website or a resume website for someone seeking a new job are two examples. The website owner may simply want to establish an online presence for themselves, to manage their reputation or brand, or to provide an online source for material also shared offline.
7. Connection: a directory website
Finally, there’s a category of websites where the primary purpose is to facilitate connections between people. Examples could be as simple as a website that provides a directory of professionals that offer a certain service, along with contact information so that website users can connect with them. Other examples might include social networking websites, dating websites, or other websites where an online community with useful profiles is a primary feature.
What comes next after identifying a website’s purpose?
Spending some time identifying your website’s primary purpose is an important first step in developing a clear digital marketing strategy, or in starting work to improve your website’s performance. After all, how can you evaluate your website’s strengths and weaknesses if you don’t know what its purpose is?
Here’s a recent example that demonstrates how a conversation about a website’s purpose leads to insights about how to optimize the website and develop a marketing strategy:
In a strategic engagement with a solo business owner who works with clients as a consultant, we started our conversation by digging into the purpose of her website within the broader context of her business.
Much of the actual business takes place away from the website. Clients make contracts and the sales conversation and closing of a new client relationship typically take place either on the phone or in person. Based on this simple understanding, it’s clear that the purpose of the website is lead generation: to attract the attention of prospects who are in the market for the service being offered, and encourage them to submit the contact form to arrange a free consultation.
Hopefully, this example demonstrates how a conversation about your website’s purpose serves as an entry point into your digital marketing strategy as a whole, and what improvements you might want to prioritize on your website.
We love having these conversations and learning more about what makes your business or organization tick. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can make your website more successful, send us a message.