Philip Westfall, March 12, 2019
Did you know that there are close to 2 billion websites online today?
Although that number might seem overwhelming, if you categorize websites by their core functionality, you quickly realize that there are only about 10 types of websites you can build.
For each website category in this guide, we will cover the best tools to use, showcase a few examples, explain how much you should expect to pay, and discuss a few key elements to consider.
Free to $25 per month
Personal and brochure websites are the simplest type of website. These types of websites are essentially content (text, images, videos, etc.) displayed on a static page. Online résumés, “about me” pages, and certain small business websites fall into this category.
They can be created by using a template based builder like WordPress or by using a WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) builder like PageCloud, offering you the ability to modify the layout without coding. There are also tools for very specific use cases like KickResume that allow you to build your online resume in a single click.
Note: Free websites typically come with third party branding and sit on a subdomain, eg: companyname.wordpress(dot)com. This solution is not ideal if you’re aiming to look professional online.
Free to $30 per month
Portfolio websites are like brochure websites with added galleries giving you the ability to showcase your work. In many cases, portfolio websites will also contain social media integrations and forms to capture leads.
Typically, this type of website is built by creative individuals like photographers, designers, and artists. If you’re looking for a template-driven solution, Squarespace is for you. On the other hand, if you want more control over your design, Wix and PageCloud are both very easy to use. Portfoliobox is an interesting option as well if you’re looking for a niche website builder.
Average cost:$10 to $100+ per month
Business websites are the largest and most diverse website type. Because there are numerous types of businesses you can start, website requirements will vary on a case-by-case basis. However, here are some of the main features that business owners need, beyond what’s already provided by brochure or portfolio websites: maps, analytics, CRM integrations, booking software, live chat, and customer reviews.
Note: e-commerce is its own category because of how different it is compared to other business types.
Some businesses, like realtors, will need to be connected to an outside database in order to display home listings. This is where price and complexity can skyrocket into the thousand dollar range.
Remember to always detail the requirements of your website before committing to a platform as some tools might not be able to offer everything you need.
$30 to $300+ per month
E-commerce websites have come a long way in the last decade. Once upon a time, it was complex and pricey to get an online store up and running. Now, thanks to products like Shopify, selling online has become almost as easy as building a website. All you need is a good business idea and you can start selling.
On the other hand, if you’re simply looking to sell a handful of products on your site, you might want to consider a website builder like Wix, Squarespace, or PageCloud, that each offer a different take on selling online.
Note: the price you pay for e-commerce will range quite a bit based upon the specific needs of your business and its scale. It’s also important to note that most tools charge a commission on every sale, so the more you sell, the higher your costs.
Free to $200+ per month
Whether you’re looking to publish one blog post per month or produce hundreds of news articles per week, the idea is the same: content websites involve adding content into pre-designed templates.
Using templates gives you the ability to modify the look and functionality of thousands of pages at once.
For the most part, blogging is fairly commoditized and almost every website building platforms offers a version of it. The real cost of this type of website is the design and implementation of the custom templates and the price to produce the content (hiring writers and journalists). This work can cost thousands, if not millions, of dollars.
The most popular Content Management System (CMS) is WordPress. It’s used by the smallest hobby bloggers and some of the largest brands in the world, including TechCrunch, The New Yorker, and BBC America.
Website builders can be great alternatives to WordPress as they offer a variety of blogging features that cater to the average business needs. On the other hand, if you need something more robust, take a look at Ghost as it’s considered one of the best WordPress alternatives.
$35 to $200+ per month
Review websites are another type of content website using templates to manage look and feel. Although you could write a bunch of reviews on a blog, the type of website we are describing here uses customer-generated reviews. To accomplish this, review platforms generally include user login so users can identify themselves in order to validate reviews.
Once again, many companies will use WordPress and leverage a template with plugins, or get a custom design built by an agency ($$$). If you’re looking for more of a plug-and-play solution, there are some niche tools like edirectory that provide you with an easy way to build a modern online directory.
$25 to $1,000+ per month
If you’re not a digital marketer or you’ve never had exposure to landing pages, you might be asking yourself: how can a single page be more expensive that an entire website? Everything has to do with the features that you get when using a landing page builder.
Whether it’s A/B testing, heatmaps, deep integrations, dynamic text replacement or another high-value feature, landing pages are geared towards maximizing conversions. And since these landing pages are tied to ad campaigns, improving conversion rates can be extremely valuable.
Here’s a quick example: Your Facebook ads have an average conversion rate of 5% which brings in $200K in sales. Using a landing page tool, you are able to increase your conversion rate to 6% - giving you an extra $40K in sales. You’d most likely be willing to pay $1,000 per month for that tool.
Obviously, there are different plans and solutions for every budget and business need. Most website builders and even some marketing tools (like MailChimp) offer basic landing pages.
$25 to $200+ per month
Until the arrival of social networks, forums were one of the best ways to interact online. Think of them as a public blogs where users can publish and interact with content. Reddit, Quora, and Stack Overflow are some of the most popular forums today.
Functionality for forums include, but are not limited to: user sign in, publishing, categories, voting (or liking), mentions, and threads.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, building a forum isn’t too difficult or expensive. Wix Forum and WordPress (using bbPress) both make it very affordable to create a forum that can be integrated into your existing Wix or WP site.
If you’re looking for something a little bit more tailored to the needs of forum users and that can be integrated into just about any website, Website Toolbox might be what you’re looking for.
Free to $400+ per month
A knowledge base is a website that provides a collection of articles and guides that helps customers answer questions related to a product or service offering. A well-constructed knowledge base will categorize the content and give customers an easy way to search for the answer they are looking for.
Because of the increasing demand for knowledge bases, there are many affordable tools that offer this functionality. Typically, a knowledge base feature will be included as a part of online support software such as ZenDesk, Intercom, or Freshworks. However, the are some website builders like Wix that offer this functionality out-of-the-box.
Social networks allow people to share pictures, videos, stories, ideas, and communicate through multiple mediums (private chats, groups, feeds, etc.).
Although they might be the type of website you frequent the most on a daily basis, building a social network is no easy task. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest were all built from scratch and cost millions of dollars to develop and maintain.
If at some point you had an idea for the next great social network and were limited by a shoestring budget, you could take a look Ning or Social Engine which allow you to get started for just a few dollars a month.
Just like a physical library that provides users with access to books, there are multiple online libraries that give users access to different content types. Examples of popular content libraries include: Shutterstock, Giphy, and Audiojungle. You can use WordPress to build out your very own content library and then install a plugin like Sell Media so you can charge your users for their downloads.
As you can see, with today’s modern software, it's possible for just about anyone to build any type of website. The key is figuring your website requirements and lining them up with a tool with which you feel comfortable.
If you’re looking to experience one of the easiest ways to build a website, feel free to give PageCloud a try. It’s free to get started and our team of experts will be there to help you every step of the way