When we talk about the different website types, you will see there are a lot of different ways of having an online presence. You may think that the best option is a ‘Brochure Site’. This is the most common type of website with ‘Home’, ‘About Us’, ‘Contact Us’ pages etc. However, things are changing and it’s a good thing that they are as it provides more options. What you need to do is find the most appropriate way for your business to have an online presence.
I’m now going to run through different types of online presence and appropriate sites that you could have. You will need to work out which is most relevant to you.
First of all, what about a Facebook Fan Page? That doesn’t sound like a site, but if you were to look at a popular Facebook Fan Page, you would see how much interaction is taking place. This is ideal for big brands, entertainment, leisure, hobby related, food and charities. You’ll see on TV adverts now, big brands that are using their Facebook Fan Pages instead of their own website links. This is because they want to get interaction from their potential customers.
In having a Facebook Fan Page they can share their message, not in a one-way, “this is what we do, this is what we stand for”, but more for the opportunity to communicate directly and regularly with their customers. If you are somebody who shares professional advice, Facebook Fan Pages also work really well for an online presence. You can respond to enquiries, topical issues and industry updates and provide valued advice that highlights your expertise.
SO, what’s another option; how about a Landing Page? You may or may not have heard about Landing Pages, but a Landing Page (sometimes called Squeeze Pages) are simply a one page website. All of the information is held on this one page. It simply has one purpose; to showcase one product, service or event, so the visitor can decide if it is what they want. If it is, there is a clear sign up.
A Landing Page doesn’t have any other links or any other information. They work very well for information products, selling a book or DVD set, promoting an event where you are selling just one particular thing. It is one page that gives a single option; clear direct and simple.
Let’s go slightly bigger now and think about Micro Sites. Where would a Micro Site come in? When you’ve got various products or services to sell, or a number of different target audiences, it can become confusing if all of them were on the Main Site. It could be more useful for a visitor to click onto a Micro Site. That Micro Site will only refer to one particular product range, or be targeted at one particular audience.
If you are an accountant, you could have a Micro Site based around Taxation Advice. You could have a Micro Site based on Business Planning, Business Support and Management Information. These micro sites present specific and targeted information without the bulk of other information that is held on the main site.
Another option is the Brochure Site and this is the typical Web One Site, so I don’t need to go into detail. The Brochure Site is where you share information about what it is that you provide. It is where you can list all of the different products or the different services that you offer. There might be a good case for having both a Brochure Site and Micro Sites. If you have got various products, you can split your promotions down into Micro Sites.
What about a Blog Site? A Blog Site is all about sharing information. It is probably more like the Fan Page in that it’s about communication, but it allows you space to really promote what it is that you do, let me give you an example of my own; www.eltonboocock.com is Blog based Site. So, why is a Blog based site not a Landing Page? Why is it not a Brochure or Micro Site? It is a Blog based Site because I want to share the information that I’ve got and a Blog is the best way for me to do that. A blog site will include some static pages, but the regular content will be changing as I add regular, relevant blogs.
So, onto e-commerce Sites, the typical step up from a Brochure Site. A Brochure Site can tell you all about everything that I’ve got on offer, but the e-commerce Site installs a Shopping Cart and a Payment Engine. It allows the transactions to take place online rather than your customers just making an enquiry.
So, there are two steps with an e-commerce site. First of all, there’s a catalogue. You want to show your customers the different products that you’ve got and typically behind the scenes, you’ve got a Catalogue Management System as well as a Payment Management System. This system manages the orders, so it isn’t a manual process and multiple orders can be created simultaneously. So, the visitor adds items to their Shopping Basket and proceeds to the checkout and payment sections. You see those orders and undertake the fulfilment and despatch.
It might be that you need to share a lot of information with some integrated systems, but not necessarily to sell online. In Urban Media, we talk about that as being a Bespoke Application, but on the Web we’d refer to that as a Portal. So, you now want a really big information based site, that’s all driven by databases and different information, but the user gets to see or benefit from the information on certain pages (which may be password protected) on the website. If you find a website with features such as event calendars, a database of companies, news and events; these pieces of information are pulled together to create an Information Portal.
What you need to do now is work out which is the best website type for you? Could you achieve everything you need to achieve on a Facebook Fan Page? Do you need to be selling online with an e-commerce site? Have you got lots of information that you need to regularly update in an Information Portal?
Then there are the final details, such as does it need to be Content Managed? We will be looking at Content Management Systems (CMS) later as most people assume they need Content Management, but actually it isn’t always advisable. To provide an introduction at this point, the upside is that you get to change all of your content without relying on the company that built your site to make changes. The downside of a CMS is that it means you’re going to have to learn how to use it and there will be some restrictions that should be understood and followed, especially when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.
So, there are many different types of websites that you could have for your online presence. You just need to find the most relevant one for you.