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What you need to create a website. Types, stages, technical moments. The functionality of a website

This article will help you to make a website that suits your business best. The article will tell you about the website types, stages of the development, and its technical moments. Besides, you`ll find out how to choose the necessary functionality for the site.

Modern technologies have firmly settled in the life of each and every person. The Internet allows you to perform many operations without leaving the house: from buying and ordering food to visiting exhibitions online.

Therefore, most business owners decide to create a website to simplify interaction with the consumer. A well-built website, the content, and the website`s promotion takes the business to a new level, increasing the brand’s awareness and customer loyalty. And, of course, it enlarges profits.

For your Internet resource to bring you benefit and profit, you first need to decide what kind of site you need. We will tell you how to do this in our material.

website, functionality, types of website

How to choose a website`s type?

 

So, the first thing you need to do is to decide WHY do you need a website. You need to clarify for yourself what you want your website to accomplish because different goals require different types of websites. The variety of website types will be discussed later in this article. 

If you already know why you are creating the site, consider that you have passed halfway to the resource’s successful launch. See for yourself: understanding the purpose of the site’s existence allows the customer and the developer to implement their plans step by step.

How to determine why you need a website?

You can find yourself frozen before you get started if you don’t have a clear-cut list of steps to guide you. To help you out, here’s a step-by-step guide to what you need to start the website. The first part is more theoretical; the second is more practical (technical). The first and the most important thing you need to do is to determine which main goal you want to achieve with your site. This will help you understand the tasks that your resource will solve clearly. Which of your business tasks can be cleared up by the website? For example, it can:

  • attract new customers;
  • provide the ability to sell a product online; 
  • increase marketing effectiveness (sales funnel, brand awareness, loyalty); 
  • demonstrate the product, etc.

Based on the tasks that need to be solved, you can determine what functions your resource requires. For example, one of your tasks is to attract a new audience and work with already existing users. What should be on the site to complete this task? First of all, there should be some information about you and your product. It could be anything: a product page, photo/video reviews, and much more. A marketer can help you with the list of tasks.

Thus, you need to describe each task and determine what functionality on the site can solve it. Don’t be afraid to write a lot of tasks and solutions. Be sure to discuss the written functions with a developer. The developer will help you correct the list of required site functions, remove unnecessary ones, and add the missing ones.

Please note that there is information that must be on the site. Static pages (or blocks on a page) help with this. This is the information about the company, your contacts, work schedule, etc. The main thing is to know your site’s objective clearly and what challenges lay ahead.

If you’re starting a service-based business, the website should accurately communicate what you offer and why people should hire you. If you’re starting a product-based business, your goal is to get people to add those items to their shopping cart and check out successfully. If you’re starting a blog to share your art (paintings, texts), the goal could be as simple as finding a few like minds who enjoy reading your posts.

Whatever your particular goal is, all the other steps laid out here can play a role in helping you achieve it, which makes it important that you figure this step out before going any further.

Depending on your goals, you can choose the type of site you need. But do not rush into the maelstrom by immediately ordering the layout of a large commercial site. When working on your Internet representation, it is important to take into account the proportionality of your goals and their implementation. At the initial stage (pre-seed), very few businesses need an extensive website; in this case, a one-page website is more useful. It introduces users to the company and tells about the services provided. Does it sound complicated and incomprehensible? Now let’s run through an example of a startup that needs a website.

website, functionality, types of website

 Website for a startup. Types of websites for every start-up stage. Example 

 

After deciding to make a website, almost every business owner thinks he needs the best, detailed site with a complicated structure. But it is not necessary. From the idea to scaling and capturing a significant market share, each startup develops through several stages.

The first stage is a pre-seed. This is the pre-sowing stage. The startup has an idea, and a large number of variables that the project will face when implementing this idea. The project starts forming a team with a minimum number of participants. The brainstorm and creative way of thinking are highly important at this stage. The small investment is needed to get the business started. This money can come from friends, family, or investors. Sometimes the people who invest money can get a stake in your company in exchange.

To impress potential target audiences or startup investors, some founders are keen to invest heavily in the big site before the seed stage. But don’t waste your resources on an elaborate website. At this stage, a brochure website will be enough. The site can and should be filled with useful information for product users and investors (if you are still looking for them). It is fast in the creation and easy to use for testing your idea out.

The second stage is a seed. The seed stage is a complete understanding of the essence of a startup and its content. The startup team is formed, and a working prototype of the product appears. The startup and the team are on the stage of developing a business plan and actively seeking investments. Once this occurs, entrepreneurs take the first steps in forming the company and developing the concept. If the entrepreneur finishes the seed stage, they progress into the “Early Stage“. 

At this stage, the startup needs a landing page. A landing page is a page on your site that is designed to convert visitors into leads. It has a form that allows the business to capture a visitor’s information in exchange for the desired offer. It is important not to confuse the landing page and homepage. The fundamental difference between a landing page and homepage is, you design the two with completely different goals or purposes in mind. The homepage of your site sets the stage, you inform the customers about yourself and your product, you give all the necessary information, and answer the questions. The landing page allows visitors to achieve a specific goal — to buy your product.

The next stage is the growth stage, the post-speed. The team is formed; the business plan is written and the product has found its consumer. Sustainable profits appear. At this stage, the formation of the organizational structure takes place. And the startup already needs a big functional website. 

Depending on the goals and objectives of the project itself, you need to choose an interaction tool. If the main goal is the sale, then it can be a corporate website and all its possible subspecies (online store, e-commerce). If a product cannot be sold through web resources, then a startup may need a mobile application, service business, etc. For technology startups, the Internet platforms will be needed, because they will help implement products through CRM systems, market placements and financial applications.

You can learn more about the types of sites and their goals here.

website, functionality, types of website

The functionality of a website

 

Site functionality is a set of useful options available on the site. This is not content, structure, design or a combination of these, but a collection of tools that help the visitor. These tools allow users to solve specific tasks. Different components of the site’s functionality ultimately lead users to the target action, for example, buying a product, ordering a service, and so on.

The development of the site’s functionality should be taken up before the design development. If you work out the site’s functionality before choosing a corporate identity (logo, color scheme, fonts, etc.), you can save time on rework. Having the functionality of the site developed right away, you and your team will not waste time doing unnecessary work. For example, a designer developed a prototype for a page, you approved it, and then you had to redo everything and add some functions to the page.

The well-known scheme of work on the functional content of the site was created by Jesse James Garrett. He is an American User Experience Designer, the author of the book “The Elements of User Experience” where he describes the scheme we lean on. Mr. Garrett divides into five stages.

  1. Strategy. The strategy of the site fundamentally determines the scope. This strategy incorporates not only what the people running the site want to get out of it, but what the users want to get out of the site as well. It is worth describing the goals and objectives of your site, and studying the target audience. 
  2. Scope. At this stage, it is worth finding out which functions help solve the user’s tasks.  Just what those features and functions constitute the scope of the site. Based on the results of passing the first two stages of work on the site, you choose the type of Internet site suitable for you.
  3. Stage of structuring. Here it is necessary to design the site architecture, so-called ‘skeleton’. The skeleton might define the placement of the interface elements’ on our checkout page; the structure would define how users got to that page and where they could go when they were finished there. All of this depends on the user experience (UX).
  4. Layout. At this stage, you are prototyping the site. There you should determine the placement of buttons, tabs, photos, and blocks of text there. The skeleton is designed to optimize the arrangement of these elements for maximum effect and efficiency — so that the user remembers the logo and can find that shopping cart button when you need it. 
  5. Surface. The implementation of your website. It’s the final stage where the site design is developed.

 

Now we are interested in the third stage — the structuring. Now you and your team choose the tools you need. And here you need to rely on user experience/interaction. UX is about making interaction with your website as comfortable and pleasant as possible, so that a site visitor can easily reach a logical point and take a useful action for which he contacted you: receiving the necessary information, finding out the company’s work schedule or the price of a product or subscribing. In turn, this useful action will lead the user to the targeted action for you, for example, buying or transferring their contacts to you (new lead).

It is worth considering that there are certain laws by which any site is built. There is functionality that must be on the site. The user of the resource must get information about the company: its activities, opportunities, services. Contacts and communication methods should be provided. When navigating to the site pages, the user evaluates the design and content and the available functions. If the user hasn’t found the required function, there is a high probability that he will leave the site without making any interaction with you. Ease of navigation, the logic of navigating through sections, searching for meaningful information — this is what must be implemented.

 

So, how to choose the tools/functions you need? 

 

First of all, look closely at the type of your website and its CMS. CMS is a content management system, a set of scripts for creating, editing and managing site content. In professional jargon, CMS is also called “the engine”. You’ve probably heard about these systems, such as WordPress, Joomla, OpenCart. The CMS allows choosing a template that determines the page’s design and its basic functional tools. 

After analyzing its basic functions, you can integrate some additional tools you need. By the way, content management systems allow users who do not have website development skills and knowledge of programming languages ​​to independently work on the creation and modification of the site.

The basic functionality contains all the basic features that should be present in every project. For visitors, these are: menus, sidebars, page-by-page navigation, feedback forms, site searches, and so on.

For administrators, these are the following functions: an access to the administrative panel, a text editor for filling the site with content, the usual profile settings (login, password, avatar), providing the standard post types (categories, tags, pages, posts), the ability to update and add modules, plugins and topics, working with media files (photos, videos), basic site statistics (the number of published posts, comments), and so on.

 

CMS functionality can be extended and supplemented. As a rule, they are extended with separate plugins and scripts.

What can be added: gallery, sliders, tabs. You can also add menu and sidebar options. It is worth adding tools for reposting content to social networks and the ability to subscribe to your social networks. An expanded commenting system (you can add photos, videos, subscribe to notifications, etc.) will allow businesses to receive more detailed feedback and then use it to improve their work and service delivery. Online stores will require an online chat and calculator function. To navigate large sites better, you need a sitemap that allows users to find the pages and information they need quickly.

 

The following extensions and functions are useful for site owners and the team that maintains it: 

  • Extended site statistics (the amount of incoming traffic, its sources, keywords, load on the site, and so on).
  • Advanced editor (adding shortcodes, tables, and so on)
  • Adding custom post types and so on.

There are separate specialized CMS for certain types of sites. Their functionality may be different. For example, some of them might set up a serious online store with all the features they need. Remember that the system of functionality and expansion of the site’s functionality is very flexible. Having installed some of the described tools, after a while you may notice that some of them are not used, but something is missing. You can always add or change the list of your instruments.

But at the same time, other CMS may not provide you all these possibilities. For example, WordPress with the WooCommerce plugin is more suitable for creating a simple online store. This option should only be used if you are clearly targeting the simple (basic) functionality of the website. It will also work if you are definitely not going to expand anything. If you are not sure about this or have already decided on the abundant expansion of functionality, then a regular CMS with a separate plugin will not suit you.

This concerns the already existing automated CMS. If you are thinking of working with a self-written system, then be prepared for the fact that the integration of new tools can take some time and cause some difficulties. First, you need to pay money to develop a new tool. Secondly, you will have to contact exactly those who developed this CMS because not every specialist can expand someone else’s self-written CMS.

 

website, functionality, types of website

Some types of websites 

There are a huge number of websites today, and it is growing every second. For better understanding the current trends in Internet business development, we have made for you an understandable classification of popular types of sites.

All sites differ in their functionality, tasks performed, purpose and other technical and not only technical characteristics. Of course, any classification is impossible to create since the sites of seemingly different types can often have some similarities. Moreover, it is not uncommon to find combined websites. Thus, the blog can contain online stores, personal websites can function as business cards, and so on.

Depending on the solution of the tasks you need, choose the site format. If you want to leave a minimum of information and contact details on the Internet, pay attention to the business card site. It is suitable for small companies that have just entered the market, individual entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, psychologists.

If you are going to give on the Internet full information about the company, its services and products, achievements, current offers and news, a multi-page corporate website will help. It will cope with the task of attracting customers and partners. And if you need to sell several groups of goods and place an order on the site, make online stores.

A landing page is best suited for selling one product, a narrow group of products, one service, or an information product. You can move on by the same principle: for someone, a bright promo website with an abundance of animation is suitable for promoting a product, and for someone — a site focused only on text content. This could be a blog, news portal, or content project. After all, direct sales are not used to monetize them.

One more serious task is to choose a software engine that allows you to update information on the site without unnecessary complications. There are quick fixes like working with Tilda and Readymag, they are website builders and design platforms of a new generation which are flexible, but limited in functionality. They are suitable for creating landings, simple corporate sites, online stores with basic functionality and a limited quantity of goods. Pay attention to WordPress, it is suitable for working with corporate websites, blogs and news portals, simple online stores (up to 1000 products, without complex warehouse account integration and complex filters). Shopify is one of the most popular engines for online stores. This engine is suitable for uncomplicated online stores. We wrote about the website engines more detailed earlier. 

Please, note that any type of site may include features of some others.

 

Business card site (Homepages)

These are usually one-page sites that include your business information, social media profiles, and contact information. The homepage sets the tone for the business’ image, so it should tell a story about who you are through images and words. It serves as the face of a brand. Being that most people come to you through your homepage, this is where design matters most.

A homepage can take on many different forms, and it’s important to remember the purpose of the homepage as the main navigation and point of interest for your visitors. Make it clear what your business is and offer a unique proposition. 

 

Brochure Website

The brochure website is a multi-page web resource that contains information about the company or a specific person. This is an advertising image that is perfect for small businesses and private entrepreneurs. Often, this site is created by individuals performing a variety of services. The main purpose of creating a brochure site is to introduce customers to the company.

The brochure doesn’t provide the client with comprehensive answers to all questions, it focuses on providing accessibility. In general, the brochure causes positive emotions, increases the company’s credibility of the new customers, and provides loyalty among the existing ones, aiming at promising cooperation.

 

Landings 

A landing page is a specific page type created for a marketing campaign that drives visitors to take a specific action. The content on a landing page should be limited and point toward the call-to-action you’d like the user to take. 

The landing page is a web page that encourages the visitor to do something. For example, you need him to buy your product, to request a discount, or to download your presentation.

First of all, the landing page should lead the visitor to the exact place with the target ad. The purpose of landing is to convert a simple website visitor to a potential customer.

 

Business/Corporate website 

A business website is any website that’s devoted to representing a specific business. It`s a high-quality and complete presentation of a company on the Internet. Its main goal is to attract new customers or partners (or strengthen existing partnerships), develop a business by revealing the company’s advantages, a detailed description of its activities, services or goods. The purpose of creating a corporate website depends directly on the wishes or needs of the company itself. It can be the capture of a new niche or an entry into the international market as well.

Nowadays every business out there should have a website. The main value and distinction of a corporate website is that it can perform several other tasks that are no less important for the company. In particular, with the help of certain functions, it can maintain round-the-clock communication with customers or partners, be file storage and a tool for conducting a workflow by company employees, their internal communication. In addition, a corporate website can sell and advertise the company’s activities, becoming a fairly effective advertising platform.

 

E-commerce website

An e-commerce website is a website people can directly buy products from. Any website that includes a shopping cart and the way for you to provide the credit card information to make a purchase falls into this category.

If you want to start a website for your business and plan to sell your products through the site, this is the type of website you need to build. But creating an e-commerce website is associated with some additional requirements. To implement this project you have to invest in e-commerce software and get your SSL certificate to ensure your customers can pay securely. And you want to make sure your web design is created with the site’s main goal in mind: making sales.

E-commerce websites can be an extension of a business you already have, or become something you build new business around.

 

Informational Website

The informational website is a large web portal, organized as a multi-level integration of various resources and services updated in real-time. The informational website contains an enormous amount of unique content. Sites of this type have a complex structure and navigation and contain various interactive services. Informational websites are designed for a large number of visitors.

The informational websites help users to find the necessary information on a specific topic. Due to the special website functions, all the data available on the website is easy to structure and systematize. In this case, the informational website acts as a user’s guide on the Web, which, compared to search engines, greatly simplifies the search for thematic materials.

 

Personal websites

Not all websites exist to make money in some way or another. Many people find value in creating personal websites to express themselves, promote their business or talents, and put their own thoughts into the world. This category includes personal blogs, vlogs, and photo diaries people share with the world.

Building a personal website is easier than most of the other websites on the list since the goal has lower stakes. You just want to make it look like you want, rather than worrying about driving sales or making ad money. Some simple templates or an easy-to-use website builder should be all it takes to get something up that satisfies your desire to share.

 

Blogs

A blog features regularly updated articles, photos, and videos. Blogs started with more casual, personal content, compared to magazines. But since then, the lines have blurred, and now it’s extremely common for major brands and businesses to have their own blog. Adding expert content improves the overall credibility of a company or an individual. Blogs also provide material for social media posts and email campaigns.

However, a blog can also become cumbersome for some smaller companies. Make sure you have a team and strategy in place to keep content fresh before you consider launching one. Otherwise, it’s actually better not to have a blog; offering a few videos or guides is more effective than having a hopelessly outdated blog.

 

Non-profit Website

Non-profit websites are projects that are not assigned to increase the profits of a company or organization. Such websites belong to the authorities, educational institutions, social institutions, partnerships, foundations.

These websites are mostly created to ensure the company’s presence on the Web, and mostly, these sites are informational.

 

The first consideration in creating your first website is you must be very clear on the type of website that you want to build. Every website has its own peculiarities, its own specificity. Therefore, understanding the features of your web site is the first and most important, but often ignored part of selecting a proper template.

 

The technical part of the creation of your website. 

After you have determined the goals and have chosen the type of site that suits you, you should move on to more specific and technical challenges. You need:

  • A name. If you are just starting your business, it is the very first thing you need to do.  It can be a difficult process, but you should work with your team on it. 
  • You need to buy a domain name. SEO specialists can help you with this question. The domain name of a website affects search engine rankings. The search engine is able to determine the activities of the company, distinguish the brand name. A good solution would be to combine the name of the company and its activities in the domain name of the site. This method will work well for brand awareness. 
  • A web hosting. To pick the right hosting plan can be a bit difficult, but a little basic information on how types of web hosting differ should give you a pretty clear idea of what to go with. You can safely ask your developers about the choice of hosting. They will be able to analyze all the loads and recommend the option that is right for you.
  • The design of the site. It is a big step for every business. Every website has a basic design that someone creates. You’ve got a few options to design your website: hire someone experienced in web design to build you something unique; use a website builder to build it yourself using templates; or you can try to learn web design yourself and build a website from scratch. 
  • The development. It’s an important and long-term process, the competent implementation of which gives you the main tool for working with your customers. The development stage takes a lot of time and effort. The main task at this stage is to correctly draw up a Technical requirement. It includes: your wishes for design (color palette, placement of key elements on the page, etc.), site structure (number and format of pages and sections), site functionality (standard or with additional modules), applied technologies, and technical requirements to the site. At the stage of forming and discussing the TR, the structure of the site, its navigation, the number of categories and subcategories, their sequence of placement, etc. are also developed. All the information is also included in the document, which is signed by the customer. After coordination, teamwork begins. Back-end developers do their part. After that, the process moves to the front-end. The stage of layout begins, this is the process of transforming the design from the form of an image into HTML-code and its integration into the developed functionality. It doesn’t matter if you do it on your own, find people on a freelance, or contact an agency. Spare your efforts and resources to implement the development stage.
  • The content. This is a big and important step if your website’s goal is to sell something. So, don’t be afraid to ask the professionals to help you because content-makers know how to develop positioning for businesses and figure out the language that will most likely drive visitors to action. If your business is already branded and you’ve got your own colors, logo and corporate identity, then consider that half of the work has already been done. Besides, when you have got the identity and the product, you already have got ready-made content or, at least, its basis for further work. Read about the importance of high-quality website content and the role of design in sales in our material Content Marketing.

Conclusions 

Building a website comes with its challenges, but once you know the basic steps you need to take, it’s easier to work out a plan to move forward. Summarizing all of the above, what is needed to successfully implement your idea by creating a website?

  1. Determine which main goal you want to achieve with your site.
  2. Choose the type of site you need, depending on your goals.
  3. Decide the site’s functionality. Choose the tools you need to realize your goals.
  4. The technical part includes the creation of a Technical requirement; choosing a name, domain and buying a hosting; creation of a design; the development of the site.
  5. Fill the website with the content. 

Creation of the website is a very responsible and difficult task. Therefore, close interaction between the team of the business itself and the team of the developer (possibly the agency) is very important. This interaction will help to correctly determine the future tasks and select the appropriate type of site. It should be noted that the required type of site will not necessarily be “pure”: on the contrary, in each individual case, one site can combine features of different types. And it is not worth being afraid of it.

Katerina Belokon

Nextpage Agency
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