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Published 11th May 2011 by

A list of the many different types of website and how each is used on the internet to form online communities.
Creating Your First Website Series
  1. What are the types of website available
  2. Introduction to Web Hosting
  3. Registering Domain Names and Configuration
  4. Installing Wordpress
  5. Setting Up New WordPress Site
  6. How To Install WordPress Themes and Plugins
  7. Using WordPress Custom Fields
  8. Creating WordPress Themes
  9. Create Custom WordPress Shortcodes
  10. Creating WordPress Widgets
  11. WordPress Security 101
  12. 10 Essential WordPress Plugins for 2018
  13. 12 Best Free SEO Plugins and Tools

When you tell a web developer or agency that you want a website, most likely their response will be along the lines of "What type of website do you want?". There are many different sorts, and depending on what type of website you want, different solutions are available at different prices.

Types of Website

Websites can be divided into two broad categories - static and dynamic.

Static or Brochureware



Static sites are usually small and have very infrequently updated content. Often the site has been developed as a direct translation of existing printed promotional materials, hence the name Brochureware. Since there is no programming or scripting involved, brochureware sites are often cheap to produce and they do not require anything more than a basic hosting package.

Brochureware sites are ideally suited for an individual, self-employed or small business where nothing is required other than a few pages of information, photos and contact details. Typically less than 5 pages, and once published the content does not change often.

Dynamic or Database driven

Dynamic websites will have some kind of database behind the scenes where the content is either contained with or generated from. These sites will need the use of server-side programming (PHP, ASP.Net etc.) to gather the data and present it on the page for the reader. Dynamic sites account for nearly all websites today, and with the rapid emergence of open source software (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal et al.) static sites are generally no longer produced anymore.

Dynamic websites are split down into many categories; however, 99% will fit into one of these.

A Weblog (or blog)

Web Logs or Blogs

Web Logs or Blogs

A blog is usually an individual's site with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as photos or video. They have tended to take over from the diary or log (hence weblog = blog). The usefulness of blogs ranges from an individual's online diary, news and current affairs, celebrity gossip and in recent years companies are leveraging the power of business blogs to keep in touch with customers and to keep customers informed with events and promotions.

There are two main blogging platforms - WordPress and Blogger. Both offer a free managed service which is hosted on their sites, while WordPress can be downloaded and installed onto your own server.

Other blogging software to consider consists of Movable Type and Type Pad.

A blog can also be used as a content management system (such as this site!). See content management systems below.

A shop

Online Shop

Online Shop

If you are planning to sell something online then you need a shop. As with blogs there are lots of software packages available either in a managed solution (on their server) or a standalone (on your server).

Depending on what you are selling and who you are selling to, different packages will be suitable. Some may prefer to set up an eBay store where the listing and payments are handled for you on a site where you can take advantage of its existing high visitor count.

For a more professional online store you may prefer to install software such as Zen Cart, osCommerce, PrestaShop or Magento on your own server or hosting package. Self hosted software can allow for a more customised solution, tailored to your exact requirements.

With a little work, your WordPress blog or content site can be also be turned into an e-commerce store. This can extend functionality for an existing website and provide a seamless transition from blog to shop.

In certain situations, you may be better off with a bespoke system, especially if you have existing back-end processes that need to be followed or require non-standard integration.

A Forum



A forum dates back to Roman times where it was a gathering place and often the scene of diverse activities, such as discussions and debates, rendezvous, meetings, etc.

An online forum in a modern day equivalent - a gathering place for users all over the world where they can share ideas, form discussions and debates and exchange information. Online forums are one of the oldest forms of "website", dating back to the early 1980's with Usenet. Forums are generally targeted at a specific audience such as a marque of car.

Popular forum software includes phpBB, bbPress, Simple Machines and Vanilla.

Content Management System (CMS)

Wordpress CMS

Wordpress CMS

Content Management Systems (or CMS for short) are content oriented websites (such as this one) where the information is provided by a limited number of people and made available to everybody. There is very little in the way of visitor contribution, with the exception of comments/reviews or rating systems.

If you are in need of a site where you can present a lot of information to your audience but don't need/want them to contribute to it then a CMS is the way to go. You can set up different users to publish information, but the general public cannot.

A community site / social networking

Social Networking

Social Networking

An extension to the forum and CMS, a community or social networking site gives greater functionally and offers improved ways of interaction. They allow anybody to be able to contribute to the site or information and "do their own thing". For example, Facebook allows the creation of Groups and Pages which can be updated by members, and people can join these groups and become active members.

Wikipedia is maintained and kept up to date by members of the community and anybody is free to contribute to the documents available, or create a new one.

Twitter takes the blog further, into an almost real-time blogging, where "tweets" (short messages) update a group of followers as to the individual or organisations activities.


Bespoke Development

Bespoke Development

Bespoke websites are custom projects, usually written from scratch, or a barebones framework, and satisfy requirements that open source or "off the shelf" software cannot. It could be that you need to integrate a shop with your existing backend systems or a website with a specific and specialised goal.

By now you should have a rough idea of the sort of website you are after and will go away and have a look at some of the software that I have suggested. There are many more packages around, far too many for me to list here. When you come back I'll show you what you need to look for when choosing a website hosting package.

Tutorial Series

This post is part of the series Creating Your First Website. Use the links below to advance to the next tutorial in the couse, or go back and see the previous in the tutorial series.

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