There are more than 2 billion websites on the Internet. In this article, you'll learn about the different types of websites, how to design for them, and which ones are most suitable for you to work as a freelance web designer.
The Internet is a wide open space with many types of websites and content out there for you to discover.
As a web designer, it is helpful to know what types of websites are most popular and which ones present the best opportunities for you to design for clients. You will notice how some may be more suitable for self-employment than others. Let's dive into 12 of the most popular types of websites.
Perhaps the first website you will ever create as a designer is your portfolio website. The portfolio website is used to display and promote examples of someone's past work.
Mostly used by those who work in a creative field, the portfolio site is basically a visual resume. It demonstrates your skills as a creator and shows your best work in hopes of attracting potential clients or employers.
Since they are not very complex in content, you can choose to design and develop your own website using Webflow, a tool to help you create custom websites. But there are also many services like Squarespace or Wix that make it easy for anyone to quickly and easily create a wallet website.
You pay a monthly or yearly fee to use the website builder and keep it hosted on their platform. They can be costly to maintain but they usually provide a certain level of customer service to help with questions and problems that may arise which makes it worth paying.
When it comes to designing for a portfolio website, the limits are high. Each portfolio site should be unique and reflect the designer or creator of the business. But the most important thing to remember is to let the work shine through.
Instead of having a complex website design with great animations, you want to dazzle potential clients and employers with your work and instruct them to contact you for your services. So you may want to lean towards a minimal design layout to allow the work to speak for itself and promote a good user experience.
Here are 5 amazing business portfolio websites to inspire you while designing your business portfolio website:
The goal of a personal website is exactly that, personal. It might not be to sell something or promote a business but just to post and share ideas. A lot of times it can feature a blog, maybe a one-page bio with links to other social platforms, or anyone who wants to share it.
As a web designer, you probably won't be asked to design too many personal websites unless it's for the benefit of a friend or family member who wants to start and share a project he's working on.
However, if you are new to web design, this can be a great way to get some practice in a low stress environment. Try to practice designing a simple one-page website that grabs the user's attention and shares the most important information about the individual the site belongs to. It can be a fun challenge as you won't have a lot of content to work with.
A blog is a website that is regularly updated with articles, also called as blog posts. These sites can be operated by an individual, a group of people, or even companies. The purpose of a blog is to share information on a particular topic to attract an audience.
Every blog is different but most of them are aimed at generating lists of potential clients. By posting well-written and researched content, you can rank for keyword-specific search terms and generate high-quality traffic that may lead to new customers.
You will notice that most blogging sites appear to be intentionally stereotyped. There should be structure for blog site design.
In the background, these sites use CMS (Content Management System). With CMS, you can create, manage, edit and publish content with an easy to use interface. This makes it easier for someone to update and add new content to the blog, rather than having to pay a web developer to make those updates.
When designing a blog site, focus on the site's structure. Think about how you want to display a series of blog posts.
Know that the content will change as new articles are uploaded, but how do you want to show the title, author, article summary, read more button, etc. A good user experience is very important on a blog site so that the user can easily find what they are looking for.
Most companies these days have a website. It's a dedicated website where businesses can share what they offer, awards and accolades, past work examples, customer testimonials, dive into details of the services they provide, and anything that helps tell the story of what the business does and how it does that helps people.
Design and branding is vital to a business website, it is how they can differentiate themselves from the competition. When designing these types of websites, it is important to gather as much information up front from the customer about their business.
Do they have an already existing logo, brand colors, tone of voice, and photographic style? Or is it a fairly new company looking for help in these areas as well?
As a designer, you have the opportunity to not only design a great business website presence for your client, but perhaps also provide logo and branding services that they can use throughout their career.
An e-commerce website is an online store where people can buy products. Some companies have physical websites and stores as well as e-commerce sites to reach a larger customer base. When your customer lives online, you have an infinite number of potential customers that you can reach.
This is a popular website type for designers to work on. There are always new businesses starting every day and they are looking for designers to help them create an unforgettable online presence to sell their products.
As a web designer, you can choose to specialize in designing certain types of websites or working with specific clients. Choosing to focus on e-commerce sites means that you will have more opportunities to work with customers and they are willing to pay well because the purpose is to build a business.
When designing these websites, there are many factors to consider. Think about the brand's presence and how its products stand out from the competition.
Organizing is key, are there multiple batches of products, perhaps different flavors or sizes? With so much variety, it is important to make sure that the customer understands what they are buying.
Watch this video on some of the best designer ecommerce sites:
Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are examples of popular social media sites. They are usually created to allow people to share their thoughts and ideas or simply connect with other people.
These sites allow the user to upload words, images, and videos to customize their feed. With auto refresh and infinite scrolling features, these sites tend to make people come back often for new content.
Once established, these types of websites mostly need background maintenance like bug testing and troubleshooting.
There may be design updates occasionally but the design may not change much visually for the user until there is a significant rebranding. Most social media companies have their own in-house design team working on design and development but you may have the opportunity to collaborate as a contract designer.
Membership sites use a paywall so that the user can access the content. Usually, this fee is paid on a monthly or yearly basis and is updated regularly with new content to keep the user coming back and happy to renew their membership.
Since the goal of a membership site is to upload new content often, it is important that the content management system behind the site is easy to use. For this reason, companies tend to use services like Kajabi or Teachable to create and maintain their membership sites. Although they ask for design assistance, initially, to create a branded presence on the platform.
Wiki or community forum site
Wikipedia is one of the most popular and most visited websites. Wikis can be created on any topic. A wiki is a website where multiple users can collaborate on content, update, and make their own changes.
Community forum sites provide a structured way to post discussions on a specific topic. Users can register to start and contribute to current discussions. Forums tend to help users with technical issues, and a great example is the WordPress support forum.
Due to the open source nature of these sites, the design tends to be non-existent. You will notice that Wikipedia is not well designed, it is basically just HTML without a lot of CSS styles. However, if you want to create your own community forum, you can get creative with the design and collaborate with a developer to make the backend run smoothly.
Magazines and news media sites
Magazine and news sites are similar to blogging sites in terms of structure, except that they focus on journalism rather than personal interests and opinions. These sites contain informative and educational articles, photos and videos. Over the past few decades, the magazine and news industry has shifted from a print-only experience to a digital format, usually offered through a subscription service.
The companies that run these sites, such as the New York Times, rarely update the design or work with individual designers. They mostly work with agencies or companies that help with design, development and maintenance.
Video Streaming Sites
Video streaming sites like YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and many other competitors have grown in popularity over the past decade. Some are free, while others offer paid services.
Similar to social media sites, once the skeleton of these sites is designed, most of the maintenance is on the technology side. With so much traffic and bandwidth flowing, these websites require a lot of back-end maintenance. Broadcasting companies tend to have in-house design and development teams working on long-term updates.
Web portals are often created for the internal purposes of a company, organization, school or organization. They usually include a login with a personalized experience based on the user. For example, a university may have a web portal that allows students to access information about their courses or a company may use a portal to allow its employees to request time off and view a pay stub.
Web portals are complex and will usually involve more complex design and programming than most other websites. For this reason, companies tend to outsource design, development, and IT maintenance to another company.
A landing page is a one-page website that is usually created for a marketing campaign that drives visitors to take a certain action. The content and design should be on point and direct the user to a single CTA (call to action).
For example, a company might want to create a lead generation landing page for their business, offering a free download or accessing a video in exchange for an email address. Another example of a landing page might be educating the user about the app and directing the user to download and use it.
Although there are many services that make it easier for businesses to create their own landing pages, it is still a highly sought-after skill. Knowing how to design an effective landing page can be a profitable skill for you as a designer and likely to have repeat customers.
You can also try designing landing pages for clients on sites like 99designs, Fiverr, or Upwork. It's a great way to get started with web design, add to your portfolio and resume work while getting paid to experiment.
Learn how to create your own websites
Now that you know about the most common types of websites, you have a better idea of all the potential web projects you can work on as a designer. To learn more about how to design any of these types of websites, check out our course The $10K Website Process.
You'll learn about creative strategy, how to create a wireframe for website layout, user interface design, and even how to develop it to make more money and get repeat customers.