There are a number of different types of website available for you to choose from now that you have decided to promote your business via the internet. This article intends to highlight four of the main types, which are:
- Static Website
- Blog Website
- Content Managed Site
- E-commerce Website
A static website (sometimes referred to as a brochure site) generally consists of 5 to 8 pages, supplying basic information about the company, its operation and the services it has to offer. A typical static website might include the following pages:
- About us
As the title implies, the content of these pages generally remains the same over time. Therefore, in this instance a website owner will most likely employ a web designer to create the site to begin with. Then, should the owner wish to make any changes at a later date, he/she would need to request the designer (or anyone with sufficient programming knowledge) to make the changes on their behalf.
These types of website are most commonly used by small to medium sized companies. They provide an excellent mechanism for companies to sell themselves and showcase the services they have to offer. In this day and age, this is the absolute minimum web presence a company should look to maintain. When looking to employ a company, customers will frequently look to the internet to gain an insight, prior to engaging the company.
A blog website (sometimes referred to as a journal site) allows users to publish articles or pages themselves via a protected user control panel. These articles are then browsed by date or category archive.
There are a variety of open source (free) software packages available, that will allow users to create and publish a blog website. The most common in use today is called WordPress (used to power this blog). To run an installation of WordPress you need web hosting with MySQL Database and PHP support.
The principal idea behind a blog site is that the user (website owner) supplies the information via the control panel, then he/she chooses a ‘theme’ to determine how that information is displayed. There are a variety of themes available to download for a low cost or for free via the internet.
Whilst the themes you can download via the internet are excellent to use and very professional looking in a lot of cases, they are generally quite fixed in appearance. Therefore should a website owner decide that they want a theme to match their companies brand or indeed merge with an existing site. He/she will need to employ a website designer to develop a bespoke theme for their company.
These types of websites are an excellent way of allowing less technically minded individuals to publish content regularly. If a website stays the same over a long period of time, it is less likely to encourage people to revisit the site. One of the best ways to increase traffic to your website is to provide new quality content to your target audience, if someone finds your articles informative, not only will they keep checking back, but they might link to your site from elsewhere on the web.
Good dynamic content is also likely to increase your Google rankings, provided it is authentic.
Content Management System
A Content Management System (often referred to as a CMS) allows users to publish web pages within a sites hierarchy. Once a CMS is set up for a company, any authorized user can:
- add a page
- choose how the page will be laid out (from selection of templates)
- populate the page with data and images
- choose exactly where it appears in the site (i.e. from which pages it can be accessed, and which pages can be accessed from it)
- publish the page
Once a page is published, the system will then add the new page to the menu system in the correct place (i.e. as a subsection of services).
The main difference between a Blog website and a CMS is in the control the user has over the structure of the site. Blog sites allow people to add articles over time, then those articles are accessed via rigid archiving systems. A CMS allows the user to design both the structure and choose how each page is displayed.
Content management systems are ideal for larger companies, that are likely to need a higher volume of pages. In these circumstances there are normally a number of people involved in the provision of the content, therefore a development involving all would be timely and harder to control. The benefit of a CMS is that you can devolve control of sections of the website to different groups of people. Due to the fact that everyone is constrained by the templates offered by the system, you are ensured a uniform look and feel to the site.
The slight drawback to using content constrained system is the lack of flexibility in page designs. If you are likely to need a high percentage of bespoke pages then perhaps a CMS is not for you. If however the majority of pages are common, but a low number need to be bespoke, a web designer can add them individually to suit your needs.
An E-commerce website is a site that allows you to advertise and sell goods over the internet. The term ‘e-commerce’ covers a wide range of websites, from sites with simple one off fixed donation buttons to multiple tiered shops with hundreds of categories and 1000′s of products.
The solution for you depends entirely on your needs. You need to condsider:
- what volume of products do you intend to offer?
- do you need to be able to add products / images yourself? or would you like someone else to manage them
- how frequently will you need to update them or add new products?
- do you need to store customer information? send out emails?
- would you like your products to be searchable?
- will you offer promotions, vouchers or gift cards?
- what types of payment would you like to receive?
- would you like to automate shipping information?
The more complex of these solutions would undoubtedly require using one of the many open source (free) platforms like Magento or OScommerce. In these instances they require installation and management together with the creation of bespoke themes and templates.
If however you are looking at a lower volume of products, or would like to integrate it with an existing blog site, there are plugins that can be added to systems like WordPress to deal with your needs. These again would need to be customized to suit.
If all of the above seems a little over the top, for example you might have 5-10 products that you would like to sell which you don’t need to control yourself (i.e. availability, price and information), then a smaller less costly solution is undoubtedly more suitable to your needs.