Not all businesses are alike. That statement seems ridiculously simplified—anyone would get it.

Yet, when it comes to websites, most people don’t stop to think that not all websites are alike. I’m not talking about design and content—I’m referring to the nature of the business model and what the site must do to be effective for the business owner.

It all starts with the goal of the website and what it should do for the business owner. For example, a Santa Rosa plumber might want phone calls to his dispatcher. On the other hand, a local clothing store wants customers to walk in the door. And a speaker or seminar leader is looking for attendees at the next event.

So, what’s the difference when it comes to websites for these different kinds of businesses? A lot, and the strategy for designing and organizing the site should reflect the business and its goals.

I group websites broadly into the following categories:

  • Retail – sells product online or in a brick and mortar storefront (restaurant, auto dealer, furniture store, etc.)
  • Professional – typically a service provider, white or blue collar (plumber, doctor, esthetician, etc.)
  • Authority – business involves ideas, content, intellectual property (speaker, author, thought leader)
  • Celebrity – the site owner has (or seeks) public following (musician, athlete, performer, etc.)
  • Cause – typically an organization, maybe non-profit focused on social impact (politician, animal rescue, environmental activists, etc.)

Some web designers also categorize sites by the chief purpose, regardless of the nature of the content. So, for example, a site where the main emphasis is on list-building would be a “list builder site.”

The next question you are probably asking yourself (OK, you’re not asking—I am!) is: “What kind of home page should I have on my site for the kind of business I have?” We will address this in a future blog. Want to read it? Sign up for my blog!