portfolio web design across desktop and mobile

9 popular types of websites

Reading time: 8 minutes

The digital world offers so many types of websites, each designed to address specific business or target audience needs. Most websites you encounter fit into several categories, which come with their own set of standards for design and functionality, but we’re focused on the nine most popular, excluding social media platforms (those rarely ever get crafted from scratch these days).

From business websites to databases, we outline each website type’s main functions and essential characteristics and provide design tips along with examples to inspire and assist you in building your own website.

1. Business website 

Today, the first thing most people do to understand a business is visit its website. Whether you’re introducing innovative services or reaffirming the credibility of your traditional business, your website is crucial to your business.

Business website

Business website design by anna.uxui via 99designs by Vista

Your website’s design should mirror your company’s brand identity. For instance, a tech startup should use modern visuals and informal language, while a law firm should opt for a classic design and professional tone.

A well-crafted business website goes beyond basic contact information. It includes team bios, a mission statement and other engaging content to familiarize visitors with your brand and excite them about working with you or buying your product. Effective CTAs like live chat options facilitate quick communication, turning visitors into clients by direct and personal engagement.

Purpose

A business website acts as your digital introduction, designed to inform potential clients about your services or products and encourage them to engage with you.

Features

  • Detailed service descriptions
  • Insightful company biography on the “About Us” page
  • Essential contact details such as address, phone and email
  • Clear mission statement
  • Solutions for customer pain points and a strong value proposition
  • Direct call-to-action for initiating business

2. E-commerce website

E-commerce platforms act as the online counterparts to physical stores, targeting the same objectives and operational needs. They require a reliable payment system that supports multiple methods, from credit cards to digital wallets like PayPal or crypto.

Website design for an e-commerce website

Ecommerce website design by Mediaspace via 99designs by Vista

For retailers with extensive product lines, it’s essential to create individual pages for each item. These pages draw in customers through engaging descriptions, vivid photographs and dynamic videos.

As your inventory expands, website navigation can become more complex. An effective layout coupled with features like filters and category tags guides customers to their desired products more efficiently.

Given the inherent hesitation some shoppers feel towards online purchases due to the inability to physically inspect items, the quality of your visual content is vital. Employ crisp, well-angled photos and videos to provide a clearer understanding of what you’re selling.

This approach is particularly critical in apparel sales, where fitting is a major concern. Including comprehensive sizing charts with precise measurements significantly enhances customer confidence in how garments will fit, mitigating the lack of a physical fitting experience.

Purpose

To facilitate the online selling of goods using traditional retail approaches.

Features

  • Gallery showcasing products with high-resolution images
  • Dedicated product pages
  • Secure payment processing, including SSL encryption
  • Personalization features like wishlists, saved shopping carts and customizable user profiles

3. Blog-based and news websites

In the digital era, blogs and news websites are taking over the roles traditionally held by newspapers and magazines. A significant majority of Americans, around 86%, prefer to access their news online — a trend bolstered by the free access most of these sites offer.

News website redesign

News website redesign by Anton S. via 99designs by Vista

Given the large number of articles these sites host, it’s essential to have easy navigation. Many sites use tags or categories, similar to sections in a newspaper like “Sports” or “Entertainment,” to help readers quickly find the content they’re looking for.

Blogs are often a feature of larger websites, including business sites, where they serve to both engage visitors and boost search engine rankings. Keeping blogs filled with fresh, keyword-rich content enhances a site’s visibility online. However, it’s crucial to focus on high-quality content to avoid the trap of clickbait, which can turn readers away as quickly as it draws them in.

Though they rely heavily on text, blogs and news sites also gain from visual elements. Eye-catching images on the homepage or within articles can draw in readers, break up dense text and improve both engagement and the site’s visual appeal.

Purpose

To deliver educational content or report on current events.

Features

  • Comprehensive article directories
  • Individual pages for each post
  • Article tagging and categorization for easy navigation
  • Payment systems and user accounts, when necessary

4. Service provider (software as a service, streaming, etc.)

For many businesses, their website is their main service. Platforms like Netflix or Google Translate are central hubs for their users, delivering everything from entertainment to specialized tools.

Netflix homepage screenshot

Screenshot of Netflix’s home page via Netflix

These websites are intuitively designed — their primary service is immediately accessible from the homepage, ensuring users can easily start using them. For example, Google’s search bar is the centerpiece of its homepage, and Grammarly prominently displays its text box for spell-checking.

For subscription services like Netflix, a clear call to action is prominently placed on the landing page, typically prompting new visitors to sign up or log in, making the next steps obvious.

Some services integrate their tools into other websites as a strategic move to draw new users and enhance value for existing ones. It’s vital that these tools are relevant to the host site’s industry to attract appropriate users. For example, a construction company might feature a project estimation tool, aligning with its business focus.

Purpose

To provide comprehensive online services, such as streaming, search engines and various online tools.

Features

  • Sign up/Authorization 
  • Direct access to services
  • Subscription payment options
  • Customizable user accounts with features like favorites and recommendations

5. Portfolio website 

Portfolio websites are vital for professionals whose work is visually driven, such as photographers and design agencies. Their main goal is similar to that of business websites — to carry ideas across to visitors and capture potential business — yet they specifically highlight actual work to set client expectations regarding style and quality.

Portfolio website design

Portfolio website design for an artist by Soda Creek Digital via 99designs by Vista

These sites are designed to show more than tell; they typically include galleries that are easy to navigate, possibly using tags or categories to sort the work effectively.

Key details like contact info and a concise professional biography are also crucial, providing authenticity and a personal touch.

Additionally, an effective call-to-action, such as a messaging feature, is essential. This should be prominently placed across the website to facilitate straightforward and quick communication with prospective clients.

Snippet of portfolio website design for food photographer

Food photographer’s portfolio website design for a photographer by Armin Braunsberger via 99design by Vista

Purpose 

To exhibit professional work samples and draw in potential clients.

Features

  • Display of high-quality project images
  • Information about the professional or agency
  • Brief explanation of services
  • Strong call-to-action for initiating contact

6. Database or wiki 

Databases and wikis are digital encyclopedias designed for quick information access. Each topic typically has its own page with all necessary details. Wikis often enable user contributions, allowing edits and new topics through account creation and moderator oversight.

IMDb database

Database website via IMDb

Many wikis specialize in particular interests or fields, ranging from fan-created pages about entertainment to specialized subjects like hobby crafts.

When setting up a wiki or database, ensure your hosting can support the volume of content, which might mean upgrading for more storage. Despite being text-centric, including visuals can make the information more engaging.

Purpose

To serve as a comprehensive reference and information resource.

Features

  • Extensive content with numerous pages
  • Efficient search functionality
  • Optional user accounts for content creation and editing

7. Landing page

Landing pages are designed for a specific function, like gathering email sign-ups or promoting app downloads, with a layout that directs all attention to one action. These pages feature prominent, eye-catching CTAs and straightforward text that clarifies the CTA’s value or offers reassurances like “we won’t share your email.”

An example of a landing page website

An example of a single-page website (landing page) by Yevhen Genome via 99designs by Vista

Landing pages are often part of larger marketing strategies, such as using a dedicated page for an online raffle to streamline links from ads directly to the action. They can be easily set up and taken down, making them ideal for temporary campaigns.

Landing pages also serve as interim solutions while a full website is being developed, collecting emails to notify users upon launch. This approach not only builds anticipation but also helps plan for adequate hosting resources based on the anticipated traffic.

Landing page design

Landing page design by Akira X3 via 99designs by Vista

Purpose

To focus user actions on a single goal within a marketing campaign.

Features

  • Single, clear call-to-action (CTA)
  • Concise service description or pitch

8. Event website

Event websites streamline the management of events like weddings, conferences or social gatherings by centralizing critical details — dates, locations, schedules and guidelines.

Website design for an events company

Event website design by daffanauran via 99designs by Vista

These sites eliminate repetitive communication, allowing attendees to access all the information they need in one place, with the flexibility to revisit details as needed.

While personal events might require basic websites, larger events may opt for more advanced setups with features like online ticket sales.

Ensure the site includes all vital information such as event timing, dress code, rules, directions, accommodation details and links to nearby facilities.

Purpose

To organize and provide essential information for event attendees.

Features

  • Registration functionality
  • Accessible guest lists
  • Detailed schedule and event information
  • Useful attendee information such as directions and requirements

9. Forum

Forums are digital spaces for users to create and exchange content, functioning similarly to social media. They provide platforms for discussion and link-sharing on varied interests.

Community forum design

Community forum design by Interfuse via 99designs by Vista

Setting up a forum involves creating an easy-to-navigate system for users to find and engage with different topics. This can be administrator-managed or user-generated.

Effective moderation is essential to maintain a respectful and safe discussion environment. Moderators may be volunteers or paid staff, depending on the forum’s needs.

Additionally, forums can serve practical uses such as job postings or item sales, requiring more rigorous moderation to prevent scams and ensure authenticity.

Purpose

To enable users to discuss topics and share information.

Features

  • Topic-specific discussion boards
  • User-generated content
  • Moderation to ensure safety
  • Customizable user profiles with notifications and favorites

Build the best type of website for your goals

Building a website today is accessible to everyone, thanks to modern technology and user-friendly tools. Start slow; there’s no rush. Familiarize yourself with the basics of website creation. Begin with simple designs and gradually explore more complex features as you gain confidence.

Then, choose reliable tools. Utilize easy-to-use website builders. Platforms like Websites by Vista x Wix offer various templates that simplify the initial setup — just select one that suits your needs and customize from there.

With this guide, you’re ready to create a website that serves your business’s purpose and attracts your target audience, regardless of your technical expertise.