Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Shayla Price
Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
12 Popular Types of Websites You Can CreateThe web is vast. As of now, there are nearly 2 billion websites online, all competing for some share of the attention people give to their online browsing each day. When you’re starting a new website, it can be overwhelming to think about all the other websites out there. But it’s helpful to remember that within that huge number of websites, you have a lot of different categories of types of websites trying to accomplish different things. As you consider how best to build your own website, carefully consider what type of website you want it to be. When you can narrow down the goals and setup you have in mind, you can more easily identify the other websites in your category to look to for inspiration. Here are twelve of the most popular types of websites you’ll see around the web. While there’s some overlap between the different categories, in general each type of website has certain goals to achieve and its own set of best practices. Which one will your website be?
1. E-commerce WebsiteAn e-commerce website is a website people can directly buy products from. You’ve probably used a number of e-commerce websites before, most big brands and plenty of smaller ones have one. Any website that includes a shopping cart and a way for you to provide credit card information to make a purchase falls into this category. If you’re setting up a website for your business and plan to sell your products through the site, then this is the type of website you need to build. There are some specific steps you have to be sure to include when building an ecommerce website, like investing in ecommerce software and getting your SSL certificate to ensure your customers can pay securely. And you’ll want to make sure your web design and copy are all crafted with the site’s main goal in mind: making sales. Ecommerce websites can be an extension of a business you already have, or become something you build a new business around.
2. Business WebsiteA business website is any website that’s devoted to representing a specific business. It should be branded like the business (the same logo and positioning) and communicate the types of products and/or services the business offers. By now, every business out there should have a website. It’s a widespread expectation. Every potential customer you encounter will just assume that if they Google your business looking for more information, they’ll find a website. And if they don’t, it makes the business look less professional or legitimate. E-commerce websites are business websites, but it’s also possible to have business websites that don’t sell anything directly, but rather encourage visitors to get in contact for more information (a lead generation website) or come to a storefront if they’re interested in becoming customers.
3. Entertainment WebsiteIf you think about your internet browsing habits, you can probably think of a few websites that you visit purely for entertainment purposes. They could be humor websites like The Onion, webcomics like xkcd, or just websites with fun or interesting content like Buzzfeed. Most of these websites do aim to make money like business and e-commerce websites do, but usually through the advertisements that show up on the page rather than through selling specific products or services. If you want to start an entertainment website, you’ve got a lot of options for formats that can take. You could make funny or informative videos, write entertaining blog posts, draw comics, or create fun quizzes. Since there are so many entertainment websites out there, you should anticipate it taking some time and work to find an audience that connects with you (and even more time and work to start making money, if that’s your ultimate goal), but if you’ve got ideas for content to create that you think people will find entertaining, an entertainment website is one of the best ways to get that content out into the world.
4. Portfolio WebsitePortfolio websites are sites devoted to showing examples of past work. Service providers who want to show potential clients the quality of the work they provide can use a portfolio website to collect some of the best samples of past work they’ve done. This type of website is simpler to build than a business website and more focused on a particular task: collecting work samples. This type of website is most common for creative professionals and freelancers that are hired based on demonstrated skill and can be a more efficient alternative to a business website that serves a similar focus.
5. Media WebsiteMedia websites collect news stories or other reporting. There’s some overlap here with entertainment websites, but media websites are more likely to include reported pieces in addition to or instead of content meant purely for entertainment. This category includes sites like the Washington Post website, Slate, and Inc. Media websites generally make money through either advertisements that show up on the site, subscription models, or some combination of the two. Many media websites are the online branch of media properties that often exist in other forms, like TV channels or print magazines and newspapers, but some are online only.
6. Brochure WebsiteBrochure websites are a simplified form of business websites. For businesses that know they need an online presence, but don’t want to invest a lot into it (maybe you’re confident you’ll continue to get most of your business from other sources), a simple brochure site that includes just a few pages that lay out the basics of what you do and provide contact information may be enough for you. Brochure sites were more common in the earlier days of the internet when businesses knew they needed a website, but also expected not to be dependent on it for success. Now that the internet is such a big part of how people research and find just about every product and service they need, most businesses recognize that they need something more competitive. If you have a business and know you don’t need your website to be a marketing tool that brings in new business, you just need something more like an online business card, then a brochure website may do the trick.
7. Nonprofit WebsiteIn the same way that businesses need websites to be their online presence, nonprofits do as well. A nonprofit website is the easiest way for many potential donors to make donations and will be the first place many people look to learn more about a nonprofit and determine if they want to support it. If you have or are considering starting a nonprofit, then building a website for your organization is a crucial step in proving your legitimacy and reaching more people. You can use it to promote the projects your organization tackles, encourage followers to take action, and for accepting donations. Note: To take donations through the website, you’ll have to take some of the same steps that the owners of ecommerce sites do. In particular, make sure you get an SSL certificate to make sure all payments are secure, and set up a merchant account so that you can accept credit card payments.
8. Educational WebsiteThe websites of educational institutions and those offering online courses fall into the category of educational websites. These websites have the primary goal of either providing educational materials to visitors, or providing information on an educational institution to them. Some educational websites will have advertisements like entertainment and media websites do. Some offer subscription models or educational products for purchase. And some serve as the online presence for an existing institution.
9. Infopreneur WebsiteInfopreneur websites overlap a bit with business and ecommerce websites, but they represent a unique type of online business. Infopreneurs create and sell information products. That could be in the form of courses, tutorials, videos or ebooks. Whatever form it takes, infopreneurs need their website to do the hard work of building up a knowledge brand – convincing visitors that they know enough to make their educational products worth buying – and the work of selling those products. To sell information products securely, they’ll need some of the same tools of an ecommerce website, including an SSL certificate and a merchant account. Those with a lot of knowledge products should also invest in ecommerce software to make it easier for visitors to select and purchase the ones they’re interested in. Infopreneurs normally create a mix of valuable free content and premium content they charge for. The infopreneur’s website serves as the central location for both things – the free content which serves as a marketing tool to get people onto the site, and the paid products that account for their profits. Building a good website is therefore crucial for this type of business model.
10. Personal WebsiteNot all websites exist to make money in some way or another. Many people find value in creating personal websites to put their own thoughts out into the world. This category includes personal blogs, vlogs, and photo diaries people share with the world. Sometimes these websites can evolve into something that makes money if they become popular enough and the person who started them wants to make that shift, but they primarily exist as a way to share your feelings, insights, and art with any friends and strangers that might be interested. Building a personal website is easier than most of the other websites on the list since the goal has lower stakes. You just want to make it look like you want, rather than worrying about driving sales or making ad money. Some simple templates or an easy-to-use website builder should be all it takes to get something up that satisfies your desire to share.
11. Web PortalWeb portals are often websites designed for internal purposes at a business, organization, or institution. They collect information in different formats from different sources into one place to make all relevant information accessible to the people who need to see it. They often involve a login and personalized views for different users that ensure the information that’s accessible is most useful to their particular needs. Web portals will generally involve more complicated programming and design than most of the other websites described on this list, so make the most sense for skilled and experienced web programmers to consider.
12. Wiki or Community Forum WebsiteMost people are familiar with wikis through the most famous example of one out there: Wikipedia. But wikis can be created on pretty much any subject you can imagine. A wiki is any website where various users are able to collaborate on content and all make their own tweaks and changes as they see fit. There are wikis for fan communities, for business resources, and for collecting valuable information sources. Starting a wiki can be fairly simple, especially if you choose to use an existing software or wiki site builder rather than trying to create the website from scratch. This option makes the most sense if you need to organize available information and resources into a central space that you want others to have access to.
What Type of Website Will You Create?Whatever type of website you choose to create, it’s important to think through what you want from it and make sure you design it based on the particular goals you have in mind. And one of the first things you’ll need to figure out before your website goes live is where to host it. HostGator has a number of affordable web hosting plans that are right for all kinds of types of websites. For more information, review the options on our website or get in touch with any questions you have. Building a website does require some work, but the benefits of having one are usually well worth the effort.
Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Casey Kelly-Barton
10 Essential Components of A Successful WebsiteBuilding your own website is easy and fast, thanks to website builder services and template/CMS tools like WordPress. But like any DIY project, your new site will work better and look better if you plan a bit before you jump in. That means understanding and including the most important elements of a good website: features that help people find your site, navigate it, connect with you, and more. Let's group these essential website components into two categories: things that work “behind the scenes” and things your visitors will notice when they come to your site. You need both sets of elements to have an effective website, and when your site is built well, they all work together. Here's what you'll need.
Must-Have Behind-the-Scenes Components of a WebsiteNot a technical person? Not to worry. These basics are easy to find and implement, and we've got resources to walk you through each step. Once you choose your domain name, you'll need:
1. Reliable Web Hosting ServiceThink of your web host as similar to a landlord who rents you space for a physical store. They provide and maintain the server space where your site files “live” and make it possible for visitors to come by and explore your site. Like a good landlord, a reliable web host will provide fast service, ongoing maintenance and improvements, and good customer service and support. If you choose a host with a website builder included (like HostGator!), you can snap together the framework of your site in just a few minutes.
2. A Content Management System (CMS)Your content management system works behind the scenes to help you organize and maintain parts of your website like your site pages and meta data, and it makes it easier for visitors to find their way around your site. You can create your own, if you enjoy coding. Or you can use WordPress, the most popular CMS around. There are thousands of templates, themes, and plugins to help customize WordPress sites. Learning how all those elements work together can take time. To get a site up and running faster, especially if it's your first site, a website builder will include its own content management system as part of its all-in-one service. Need more help deciding which route to take? Look more closely at your basic website building options or ask yourself a few questions to decide how to build your site.
3. SEO BasicsOptimizing your site so it appears in search engines is a must. With millions of sites on the internet now in competition for a spot on the 1st page of search results, you'll need to follow a few search engine optimization (SEO) best practices to get found. To do this, figure out which keywords visitors are using (or will use) to find your site – the more specific and local the better, especially if your site serves a local or regional audience. Use those keywords wisely in your site copy, your meta data, and your media tags and file names. There are other important aspects to SEO your site needs to include, like mobile-friendly optimization and fast page load times. Test your knowledge of SEO basics and learn more.
4. Analytics ToolsYou'll want to know how people are finding your site, which pages they spend the most time on, and how well different elements of your site convert. Google Analytics is the most popular and easy to use resource, it doesn't cost anything, and it integrates easily with WordPress and some website builder tools. Learn the basics of using Google Analytics here.
5. Inventory ManagementWhen you're selling products on your site, you'll want to make sure you keep track of what you have in stock, what's sold, and what's on order. That's where inventory management tools come in. When they're integrated with your checkout process and your shop pages, you and your customers will both know whether an item is available to buy.
Website Components Your Visitors Will NoticeNow that we've mentioned customers, it's time to talk about must-have website elements that your visitors will see and interact with. Whether you're selling, blogging, or both, your site needs these things to make visitors feel welcome and want to stay.
6. Mobile Friendly Template and ThemeYour site will need to look great on all kinds of screens: laptops, desktops, tablets, and especially smartphones. Choose a mobile-optimized or responsive design so your site is fast-loading, easy to read, and easy to navigate on phones, which are the way most web users search now. Having a mobile-friendly site will also help with your SEO, because Google looks for it.
7. Sections That Visitors ExpectHave you ever visited a new website that didn't feel quite right, or an online shop that felt a bit off? Chances are that feeling of wrongness was because the site was missing some elements you've come to expect: a home page that lets you know what the site's for, an about us section that shows there are real people behind the site, and contact information so readers or customers can reach you if they have questions or feedback.
8. MediaIt's a rare site that can build an audience on words alone. Our eyes are naturally drawn to images, especially if they move and make noise, and images are a must if you're selling merchandise online. People will also want to see a photo of you in your about us section. Choose images that are optimized to look good and load fast, and be sure to tag and name your website's images in ways that use your SEO keywords.
9. Social Media Links and IntegrationYou don't have to be on every platform, but you should link your site's social media accounts to the site itself. Depending on how often you update, you may want to include a widget that shows your latest posts. Some website builders will help you integrate with your favorite platforms so you can post your site updates to your social media accounts at the same time.
10. Shopping Cart and Payment ToolsIf your site includes a shop, you'll want a reliable, easy to use shopping cart and payment tools like PayPal or Square that are popular with most online shoppers. Most e-commerce platforms integrate well with WordPress, and many website builders can help you set up shopping and checkout tools in a snap.
Time to Build Your SiteNow that you know the basics your site needs to succeed, you're ready to get started! Check out our options for getting it done, including HostGator's Website Builder service that includes all the elements on this list.
How To Make A Business Website That ConvertsIt's a truth universally acknowledged that if you have a business, you need a website. Even if you're not a site designer, there's plenty of information online to help walk you through the basics to create a professional-looking business website. As you're planning and designing your site, remember that there's sometimes a big difference between knowing how to make a business website that looks cool and how to build a business website that does its most important job: getting customers to do business with you. Here are some key elements your site needs to get customers to convert from browsing to buying.
1. Help Shoppers Find Your SiteCustomers can't shop in your store or hire your services if they don't know your business exists. So every step of building your business website should focus on performing well in search results. Start by choosing a professional, on-brand domain name and top-level domain (.com is still considered the most trustworthy). Then use a keyword finding tool like Soovle (and your own customer inquiries) to choose the long-tail keywords to include on each page of your business website. For example, if you are a professional dog walker in San Antonio, your long-tail keywords might include the specific neighborhoods you serve: “professional dog walker in Olmos Park” or “professional dog walker in the King William District.” Why not just go with “professional dog walker” or “dog walker in San Antonio”? Because people who are looking for something very specific near them are usually ready to make a purchase or hire a professional. That means they're more likely to convert when they find your site. And once you know which long-tail keywords make the most sense for your business website copy, you can use them in other SEO best practices on your site, too.
2. Help Shoppers Use Your SiteNow that visitors can find your business website, will they convert? Maybe. It depends in part on how easy to use your site is. Choose a web hosting service that loads sites fast, because visitors will move on to the next site if yours doesn't load in a couple of seconds. Most local searches are done on mobile devices now, which means your site also must display well on smartphones and tablets. One of the most important factors in raising your conversion rate is well-crafted calls to action. Every page on your site needs a call to action to let visitors know what next step you'd like them to take. For example, on your home page your call to action could be Find Your Perfect Prom Dress Now or Book Your Prom Hair and Makeup Session Now. What else makes a business website easy to use? A lack of clutter. Before you add sliders, autoplay videos, or infographics that require both vertical and horizontal scrolling (no, just no), ask yourself if they will help or hinder visitors to your site. In most cases, you're better off without those extras.
3. Make Buying From Your Site EasyIf you sell products on your site, make them look great. High quality product photos and videos are must-haves, because those images plus your written descriptions are all the sensory input customers can gather about your product online. Keep written product descriptions simple but include the details customers want, and format descriptions in a mobile-friendly way – bullet points and short paragraphs rather than big blocks of text. Your business website's checkout process is a make-or-break point for conversions. The more complex, time-consuming, or repetitive the checkout process is, the fewer customers will complete it. Think about how you can make the process as easy as possible for a busy customer who's using a smartphone to make a purchase while they're also doing at least one other thing:
- Avoid roadblocks like requiring guests to register before they can add items to a shopping cart.
- Offer a guest-checkout option. Busy people may abandon a cart rather than register as new customers.
- Choose e-commerce tools that your target market prefers to use, like PayPal, Square, and Stripe.
- Make payment and shipping information entry as easy as possible, ideally by using data your customers have already shared with PayPal or another payment service.
4. Make It Easy for Customers to Reach YouSome businesses make conversion less likely by serving up every possible contact option: a contact form, email, two phone numbers, a fax number for the customers reaching out from 1991, and half a dozen social media badges—the perfect conditions for option paralysis. A more effective practice is to limit your contact options: phone and email, or text messaging. Why? The way you present your contact information is another type of call to action, so keep it simple and direct.
5. Show Visitors Why They Should Do Business With YouLimiting contact information doesn't mean you can't invite customers to connect on social media. Including your channels can help develop a sense of trust in customers—but it's better to display that information separately from your preferred contact methods. Other ways to build trust include:
- Clearly stating your shipping and return policies on every page.
- Including your preferred contact information on every page.
- Including customer reviews and testimonials.
- Displaying the trust symbols that show how your site protects customers' information. Your web hosting service should offer you a range of security options and badges you can display.
6. Test Your TacticsThere's one more step to raising your conversion rates: test your tactics. You can test virtually every element on your site to see how usable it is and how if affects conversion rates. With an all-in-one website builder service, you can make changes easily to improve your business website's conversion rates based on your testing.
How To Design A Website For A Small BusinessKeywords: designing a website for a small business (1,300)small business websites (2,400)website for a small business (2,400)small business website design (1,300) As a small business owner, you've probably researched all the reasons you need a website for your business. You may also already know what your site should include: a mobile-friendly design, media elements that load quickly and look good, tools to help you get found in searches, social media tools, and tools to make selling online a snap. But unless you're in the website design business, you may not feel confident pulling these elements together on your own. Today, we'll cover the must-have elements of a good website for a small business and go over your options for creating those elements.
1. Overall Design or TemplateThe first and most important element for effective small business websites is a design that works well on all types of devices, especially smartphones. That's because most online searches happen on mobile devices now, and Google is in the process of rolling out a new mobile-first index that will rank mobile-optimized sites higher in search results that websites that aren't mobile-friendly. For a small business website design that meets mobile-first standards, you can hire a designer, if you have the funds and the time to wait for a custom-built site. You can also shop around online for a mobile-optimized template you can adapt to your needs. Or you can use a website builder that comes with a library of mobile-friendly templates to ensure your site works well, even if you choose another look for it later on. While you're looking at mobile-friendly templates, keep in mind that there are certain pages and sections that customers expect to find on every business site. These include your home page, a contact page (although you should include contact information somewhere on each page of your business site), an about us page, a portfolio if you sell services, and an online shop page if you sell products. To simplify and speed up your site creation, look for a website builder that has pre-built pages and sections you can tailor to your business needs.
2. Multimedia ElementsThese days, pictures are probably worth more than a thousand words, because smartphone users would rather browse images and watch videos than try to read lots of text on a tiny screen. When they're properly formatted, tagged, and optimized, images and videos can help your site rank higher in search results so more prospects come your way. And a custom favicon (that little image at the top of the browser tab, like the wee Snappy on the tab you're reading right now) not only helps your business with branding but also makes it more useful as a bookmark or toolbar icon for your frequent customers. You can find downloadable tools and WordPress plugins to help you with tasks like image optimization, schema markup, HD video embedding, favicon design, and more. If you decide to use a website builder, those tools will already be baked in and accessible in one place, ready to use.
3. Get Found and Track Your PerformanceImages and mobile-friendliness aren't the only elements your site needs to rank well in search results. There are a number of SEO best practices your business website should follow, like using the right keywords and other metadata to help local shoppers or prospective clients around the country find your business easily. How will you know how well your SEO is working? That's where Google Analytics comes in. Tracking the performance of your posts, social media campaigns, keyword search results, and more is critical to getting the most from your business website. As with the other elements of your site, you can take on these tasks one by one, using resources like Google Analytics Academy to walk you through the steps you'll need to follow. You can also find WordPress plugins to help you with SEO and analytics, or you can use a website builder to save time by providing all those tools.
4. Social Media ToolsSocial media is important for reaching new customers, establishing your professional expertise or product awesomeness, and making sales. Many small business owners start out ambitious and motivated and end up overwhelmed by their social media programs, because it can feel like a full-time job to manage your social media posts, comments, offers, and sales. It doesn't have to be that much work. To get the most from social media without focusing on it constantly, get the right tools. If you have the budget, you can hire a social media manager to handle your posts and responses for you. A less expensive option is to use a third-party tool like HootSuite or Buffer to post your content on your channels at pre-set times, although it will still be up to you to load those links into your schedule. There are also plugins that will optimize your website posts to display well on different social media platforms. The simplest solution is to choose a website builder that gives you all the tools you need to handle your social media program. A good site builder will make it easy for site visitors to follow you, share your content, and buy your merchandise while they're on Facebook.
5. E-commerce ToolsFor online retailers, e-commerce tools are the main reason for having a website. These include your online store, an inventory tracking system, an easy-to-use shopping cart, popular payment tools like PayPal and Square, and a way to run promotions with coupon codes. You can add the elements you'll need one by one and follow the integration tutorials for each one, or you can use the suite of e-commerce tools provided by your website builder to get your shop up and running faster.
Design Your Small Business WebsiteDesigning a website for a small business takes some time, research, and experimentation to get things set up just the way you want them. With an all-in-one service like the HostGator website builder, you can spend less time working on your small business website design and let it work smarter for you.