A couple of days ago a couple of teenagers riding on the back of a pickup truck, while there dad drove, were delivering phone books to people in the neighborhood. I immediately went to my door, pick up the phone book, and took it to my recycle bin. The first thought that came to my head was “does anyone use paper phonebooks anymore?” Now days it is so easy to just pick up your phone and search for whatever business you want to call. Gone are the days when making your name start with the letter “A” was a marketing strategy so you could be placed first in the phonebook under your category of business. If you want to be found, in todays technology driven economy, you have to have a website.
As mentioned above, when your first starting your business one of the main ways to advertise is through a website. However, websites also provide information about the products and services you provide, pricing, hours of operation, and a central place for your customer to get to know more about you. Think about your website as the new way to communicate with your customers.
Company websites are no longer optional. It is no longer a question of if your business should have a website, but what kind? If you have never build a website you may think that all websites are the same; they are not. With the different web building tools, platforms, and sub-programming languages, websites have become very tailorable. This is important to you because you need to know what kind of website will best suite your business needs.
We will be going over some of the more common kinds of websites and then talking a little bit more in detail about the two that are most common today. Lets look at some general definitions of website formats.
Search Engines and Directories
Some of the most popular websites in this category are Google, Bing, and Gigablast. Websites like Yahoo! And MSN are also search engines but act more like a portal to other parts of the web. I combined Search Engines with Directories because they act very much alike. Earlier we were talking about phone books; you cannot find most companies information on the web through a yellow pages listing or find a job through classified directories. What makes these two categories very similar is that you have the ability to type in what you want into a Search Box and find what you want in that directory or be redirected to other websites that contain the information you are looking for.
Informational Types of Websites
Just like the name implies, Information websites provide information like news, stock information, and weather. Common companies websites that fall into this category are CNN, CNBC, ESPN.
Blog websites are becoming more and more common. Companies like blogs because they are easy to use, have search features, and are very versatile. People use blogs as online diaries, to provide their customers with updates information, or as a part of their overall website. If you are reading this on StartupBusinessAssistant.com, you are probably reading this as a blog post.
If you have ever gone to a large companies website you will realize that the content hardly ever changes. Having a static website is not a bad thing. People are creatures of habit and do not like change. Depending on what your company is trying to do with its website, static websites and be perfect. In a static website the customer should know what to expect, be familiar with your menu bar, and finds it easy to navigate through the website.
Forums are usually targeted toward a specific user or customer. Many banking, finance, schools, and tailored industries use forums. Forums can be open to the public but are often accessed by a password. These websites are very useful when you are tying to have several people provide their input on a subject or you need to collaborate on a project.
eCommerce i.e. Online Stores
Some of the most popular eCommerce websites are Amazon, Ebay, and Barnes and Noble. Many brick and mortar stores are not building eCommerce sites so they can reach more customers. Some companies that are used to build these kinds of sites are Bigcommerce.com, GoDaddy, and FatCow.
Social network websites are changing the way people use the web. Websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter have only been around for a relatively short people of time, however, almost more and more people are using them daily. These networks are becoming so large that they are publicly traded on the NYSE and making investors a lot of money. Just like having a company website is a must, using social networks to reach your customers is becoming a necessity.
All the types of websites mentioned above can stand alone, however most websites today are starting to integrate different elements of each kind of website to provide the best experience for the customer. These websites are commonly referred to as Web 2.0 or the next generation of websites. With web builder software provided by companies like GoDaddy, 1&1, and FatCow, building a great website has become a lot easier.
No matter what kind of website you decide to build for your company, do not forget to make sure it is mobile compatible. Accessing the web through phones has sky rocketed and is predicted to become more common than accessing the web on a desktop computer. If you fall in love with certain web builder software that does not have a mobile application software built into it or you already have a website that is not mobile friendly, do not worry. You can use an external application like DudaMobile to transfer your website content to a mobile website for your customers.
If after reading this information you are still not sure what kind of website to build, I would try to define what you are trying to do with your website. If you are trying to just provide general information about your company, you may want to start with a stagnant website and go from their. If you plan to sell a lot of products on your site, start with an ecommerce website. You can always ad a blog section along with social media. The one thing you do not want to do is try to build a website that you cannot maintain. If you want a website that provides information about your company (static), sells your products (ecommerce), and updates people about the latest information about your products (blog), and can connect with your customers on a personal level (social media) but do not plan on doing a lot of maintenance or upkeep on your website, your better off on starting small on building onto your website as you have time. Having a blog or social media on your website and not keeping up with it is worse than not having it at all.
If you have additional questions about website types please do not hesitate to let us know.