How to Get Online: Part I – Choosing the Right Type of Website for You
How to Get Online: Part I – Choosing the Right Type of Website for You

Before you jump into commissioning a website or indeed creating one yourself – before you spend valuable money and time – consider this question: What do you want your website users to do? 

Whether or not your call-to-action is explicit, the format of your site should be influenced directly by this purpose. 

 

So, what's your type?

In any given day at Asilia, we look at 10s and 10s of websites (one of the perks of the job as far as I'm concerned!). No matter how complex and all-singing all-dancing, by looking at what user need a site is satisfying, you can reduce it to its essence and classify it by type. Keep in mind that the person who owns the site (e.g. you) is a user too.

In thinking about creating or enhancing your online presence, consider which of the following website types will best suit the needs of your target audience … and your own.

 

Brochure
Information about you, your product or service. The primary aim is to inform.
e.g. Green & Black'sAcademy for Global Citizenship

Portfolio/gallery
A showcase, usually of media (images, videos, audio). The aim is to give visitors a taste of what you create.
e.g. photographer Jonathan Perugia and Asilia i.e. this website (our aim is to give you an idea of what we can do and what it would be like to work with us)

Shop 
Enabling users to purchase your products or services online. The direct aim is to sell, i.e. right that minute.
e.g. fashion designer Adele Dejak's site and the Lowdi speaker

Blog 
A log of entries, usually along a particular theme. Essentially an online journal. The aim is to express, share and oftentimes, build a community of readers.
e.g. Afri-love (which I curate) and Sheena LaShay's blog

Online publication
A magazine or newspaper – online. These are constantly changing with content being updated regularly. They are somewhat similar to blogs but requiring a lot more resources. The aim is to disseminate information (news, ideas, opinions etc.).
e.g. Ebony magazine and The Guardian newspaper

Directory
Aggregating data from various other sources. The aim is to provide a central point of reference making information accessible.
e.g. Niice, "a search engine with taste", and the UK government's award-winning website GOV.UK

Library
Housing curated resources. Similar aim to a directory.
e.g. open access research library, Hadithi, and library of best practice web design, Selected Webdesign

Forum 
Facilitating dialogue between multiple users. The aim is conversation.
e.g. Estetica Design Forum and UK Business Forums

Social network 
Bringing interest groups (people) together. The aim is to connect.
e.g. my beloved Pinterest and the rather obvious one – Facebook

Hub 
Virtual headquarters for a campaign, project or organisation. This website type may include elements from all of the types above. The aim is to inform, connect and facilitate action.
e.g. Afriapps and the African Union campaign CARMMA

Web app
A web-based application or online tool. The aim is to enable users to perform certain tasks that require software without having to download the application.
e.g. Asilia's favourite project management tool Trello and our file management system Dropbox

 

Just as there exists an array of website types, there are also various ways to approach bringing them to life. In part II, we share our recommended solutions for creating your website and in part III, we present a solution for letting your work speak for itself.

Did we miss anything out? What website types do you think should be added to the list?

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