This article helps you to decide what website you need, it tells you what options you have when it comes to building a website and some of the costs that you may expect.
You considered having your own website and you don’t know what kind of website you need, you don’t even know that there are several kinds of websites and building one or another vary greatly.
There are many kinds of websites and regardless if you build the website yourself or hire someone to do it for you, you still need to know what your options are when it comes to building your website.
You also need to know what you can do with that website since they are so different from each other and the functionality is what makes them so different.
1. Presentation websites (brochure websites)
These are simple websites with a few pages usually used by small companies or self employed people to showcase their products and services they offer to their customers.
This kind of website contains a few pages (for example About, Products/Services, Contact). Their purpose is to be placed on business cards or other advertising materials so potential customers can find their contact details easily and look up their services on the website.
In order to have your own website you need the following:
- Domain name ($14/year)
- Cheap hosting server ($3/month)
- News website
- Media website
- Entertainment website
- Nonprofit website
- Web Portal
- Wiki website
These you will need for any other kind of website but the hosting price will greatly differ. For a brochure website all you need is a cheap host. I personally use HostMetro and I have never had any issue at all with them.
There are hosting companies that have special hosting plans for WordPress. That means when you sign up for such a hosting plan, they automatically install WordPress and you can directly connect to the WordPress dashboard.
You still need to know how to buy a domain name; preferably the domain should be bought from the same company that offers the hosting so the configuration can be done easily.
The great thing about WordPress or any other CMS is that it allows you to easily create a presentation website just by creating a few pages. WordPress functionality can be greatly extended with plugins. It is really a great option for anyone who wants a website/blog. You can really do pretty much everything with WordPress.
A presentation website (brochure website) is much faster than a WordPress website and since a brochure website is coded from scratch it can be customized very easily. WordPress can be customized to a certain degree using different themes but it is still limited. For example, if you want a button moved from the right side to the left side then it might be very difficult. Of course, if you know PHP then you can always create your own WordPress theme.
WordPress can be installed on almost every hosting server and there are countless number of tutorials on the internet on how to start with WordPress.
3. eCommerce website
If you want to sell anything online then you need an eCommerce website. There is software similar to WordPress that can be easily installed on any hosting server. It gives you a fully functional eCommerce website where you can login and add your own products or services.
Take a look at the below screenshot from my Softaculous App Installer, there are so many options when it comes to eCommerce.
There are 39 options in my particular case. I tried a few of them and I can say that Magento, PrestaShop, or OpenCart are certainly good options.
An eCommerce web software is very easy to install on any server but it is not easy to customize at all. You have to know PHP or hire a developer who knows PHP in order to create a unique look for your eCommerce website.
Worth mentioning that you can use WordPress with plugins to create a WordPress eCommerce website. WooCommerce plugin for WordPress is very easy to use and it gives full eCommerce capabilities to any WordPress website.
Of course you can build your own personal eCommerce website in any programming language you want. That will be costly since you need to hire a programmer to do it. It can easily cost 10000 euro but it is custom made with custom functionality. I built a sample eCommerce website for a project at school using Python and Django framework. You can see it here https://project3-stream3.herokuapp.com/. Such eCommerce website requires special hosting (my website is hosted on Heroku servers but there are other options). Unless you need something very specialized you should use one of the already built eCommerce software available.
Any website that stores user data or deals with login and shopping carts should have an SSL certificate. An SSL is a Secure Socket Layer and it creates an encrypted connection between the user’s computer/the browser and a web server. It protects sensitive data such as credit card information.
4. Portfolio website
If you are a professional who is hired based on demonstrated skills then you need a portfolio website. A portfolio website showcases someone’s work; for example a photographer, carpenter etc.
It is very similar to a brochure website in terms of code and it also can be built with WordPress very easily especially if it is accompanied by a blog.
5. Photo Gallery
Some people want to have their own photo gallery online. Of course there is software already built ready for you to install on your server. Take a look below at my Softaculous installation.
I have 12 options there. I tried most of them and they are all okay. They are all written in PHP and can be installed on most shared hosting. Again, it is worth mentioning that you can use a WordPress plugin to create a photo gallery on a WordPress website. I did and I think it is a fantastic idea.
6. Educational Website
An educational website is a website that contains educational materials like courses, tutorials etc. It can also contain information on educational institutions and courses. If you are a person who wants to teach others then you might want an educational website.
Needless to say that there is a piece of software that can be installed on your server and give you a full functionality of an educational website. I used Moodle in the past and it is considered to be the best in its category.
Moodle is really powerful. You can create online classes, online assignments; basically everything you can think of when it comes to online education. You have to install it and use it to see its true capabilities.
In terms of customization, again, you can’t really customize the look and feel of the website unless you know PHP. You can install themes and plugins but not as easily as you can with WordPress.
If you are serious about creating an educational website then Moodle is the way to go.
7. Forum website
A forum website is basically a discussion website. Each topic is called a thread and it is tree-like organized. If you don’t know what I am talking about then probably you don’t need a forum website.
If you do know what I am talking about and you want a forum then you can install on your hosting server via cPanel one of the available software options.
Personally, I tried Simple Machines Forum (SMF) and I liked it. They all work in the same way and it is just a matter of preference.
If you have a WordPress website and want to attach a forum to it then of course there are plugins for that. One of them is bbPress which is easy to integrate and easy to use bulletin board for WordPress.
There are other software available, all you need is to do a little bit of research and choose the one you want to use.
8. Other type of website
Of course there are other kinds of websites that someone might want. These kind of websites can be created with one of the above mentioned methods. Here is a list with other kinds of websites someone might be interested in:
There are options out there. You can build the website yourself or you can hire someone to do it for you. You can code it from the beginning to the end or you can use one of the software that is already built. I did all of them and all are good options.