So you want a website for your business. You want it to be gorgeous, functional, and basically to make your dream clients fall madly in love with you and want to spend all their money on you. Sounds pretty simple, right?

If only it were that easy! As any developer or designer will tell you, there are tonnes of aesthetic options to choose from, not to mention the fact that there are all different types of sites. Determining what you really want, and which kind of website will serve your business, is a pretty extensive process, to put it mildly.

Here’s a conversation we have almost every time we start a website project with a client.

Client: I need a website for my business. How much will it cost?

Us. We’d love to help you with that! The price depends on what type of website you need. What were you thinking?

Client: Just a simple site. You know, with slideshows, contact forms, pop-up windows, an online shop, a login area for our clients…oh, and a blog too…

You get the picture.

So what do you need to know about narrowing down your choices?

First, understand that a website is not just  a website. It’s an extension of your business; a shopfront that’s open 24/7. It’s also a reflection of your brand, and communicates volumes about you to potential customers. As an example, imagine if you owned a dress shop where all the shelves were in disarray, the window featured undressed mannequins and there was no one at the till ready to take your order. Sadly, this is what some businesses’ websites feel like. Instead of cultivating a site that functions well and is appealing to their clientele, these businesses choose to toss up any old thing on the web and call it a day – with no clue the damage they’re doing to their brand.

Perhaps the problem is that “website” is too vague a word to convey what it actually contributes to your business. The possibilities of what you can do with your website are practically limitless, but for a business just starting out (or even just starting out online after many years as a brick-and-mortar), the process is daunting.

I’ve created a list of several different types of websites, and the businesses and clients for which each type is best suited. I’ve also included some examples of sites we’ve designed (and a few designed by others), for your visual inspiration. Read on to determine which kind of website can help your business shine online!

Type of Site: Basic web presence

Description: A simple site intended to establish credibility and provide basic, yet essential information to customers.

Good For: Brand-new businesses, small businesses, businesses with no “products,” businesses offering familiar services such as doctors, dentists, lawyers, mechanics, etc.

Essential Content: Basic business description, services or products offered

Calls-to-Action: Contact/enquiry form

Cost: $

Sites We’ve Done: Fulham Consulting; Dr. Simone Page

Other Examples:  The Minus Firm, Nicola Potts

Type of Site: One-page site with blog

Description: Modern, minimalist site for creative, service-based entrepreneurs with a web-savvy clientele

Good For: Service professionals, designers, artists and other creatives, bloggers, consultants, wellness entrepreneurs

Essential Content: Easily located contact information, hiring details

Calls-to-Action: “Work With Me” page, email opt-in/offer

Cost: $$

Sites We’ve Done: Verve Design, Johanna Anning

Other Examples:  Rosewater Market & Takeaway, Mind Journal

Type of Site: One page site, lots of photos w/ menu

Description: Aesthetically pleasing, yet simple site to communicate services and atmosphere

Good For: Restaurants, coffee shops and other service industry businesses

Essential Content: Opening and closing hours, location, menu

Calls-to-Action: Phone number, booking form, map with directions, social media links

Cost: $$$

Sites We’ve Done: Donna Bionda

Other Examples: Tavares, Chick’s Fry House, Restaurante Baobab, Maaemo, Saboc 

Type of Site: General business site

Description: Informational site, useful for a variety of business types

Good For: Professional services, information-based businesses

Essential Content: Clear, concise copywriting, intentional branding, easy-to-use navigation

Calls-to-Action: Contact forms, call/consultation scheduling, download information kit

Cost: $$$

Sites We’ve Done: Chatswood Central, Brazier Motti

Other Examples: Australia Fair Shopping Centre 

 Type of Site: Showroom/portfolio site

Description: Gallery-style site intended to showcase a business’ products, a residential or retail space, or an artist or maker’s creations

Good For: Architects, builders, interior designers, graphic designers, hotels, tourism industry businesses

Essential Content: Quality imagery, clear explanation of the business’ role in the images, contact information

Cost: $$$$

Sites We’ve Done: Turek Road Interiors, Townsville Texture Coating, Roux Blond, Lancini Property & Development

Other Examples:  Taxonomy of Design, The Greenwich Hotel Penthouse, Blu Homes, One John St., Dumbo Townhouses 

 Type of Site: Information-heavy site

Description: Site used to communicate detailed information to visitors and to allow interactive and/or downloadable forms.

Good For: Universities, colleges, government agencies, organisations

Essential Content: Logical site structure and navigation, good search functionality, easy-to-use forms, accessibility across multiple browsers and for visually challenged visitors

Calls-to-Action: Downloadable forms, signup forms

Cost: $$$$

Sites We’ve Done: Healthy Rivers to Reef Partnership, YWAM Townsville

Other Examples: The University of Sydney, Australian Government

Type of Site: Shop site

Description: E-commerce site, enabling visitors to browse products and shop online

Good For: Retailers

Essential Content: Organised shop- and sub-shop categories, easy-to-navigate buy buttons and checkout functionality

Calls-to-Action: Voucher discounts, sign-up to email list

Cost: $$$$$

Sites We’ve Done: Me Mo Stationery

Other Examples: Bill Blass

Type of Site: Online magazine/editorial site

Description: Design-centric site with images and written content for a discerning audience

Good for: Magazines, newspapers and individual writers

Essential Content: Excellent writing and/or photography, unique layout that doesn’t look like a blog and allows for easy reading and navigation

Calls-to-Action: Email signup, social sharing links

Cost: $$$$$

Sites We’ve Done: Confetti Magazine

Other Examples: New York Times, The Great Discontent, Quotes Magazine, Yours Truly, The Forecaster Interactive

Remember that your website may be the first (or only!) impression a customer has of your business – why not give them a cohesive online experience and convert them into raving fans before they even meet you? And when you’re ready to upgrade your presence on the web, please get in touch – we’d love to help!

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