Five Kinds of Websites – What They Are And Why You Need Them

different-kinds-websites-smEver found yourself at a crossroads and not sure which way to turn? It can be overwhelming.

Being confronted with a bunch of different choices can be a lot harder to deal with than a decision that consists of just a few options.

Launching a web project means that you’re going to have to make a bunch of decisions. But the bottom line is you have to launch. And to launch you need to have an idea of what you’re launching.

Any website done right is going to require a lot of work (despite what the commercials on TV are telling you), but as long as you know what you’re creating you’ll be on the right track and setting yourself up for success.

The idea for this post came as a result of my own work with different kinds of websites and expanding my own online efforts. I’ve had or have a site that falls in to each of the categories below, with the exception of an affiliate site. For me, it was a matter of clarifying some definitions for how I think about each different type of website and how they can be applied. 

Something to keep in mind when thinking about these different types of websites is how you can use one website to build others, or expand a site you already have.

One of the biggest ‘eureka’ moments I had when reading Jeff Walker’s Launch book was during his discussion of building your business and using the concept of the launch to grow and expand. If you’ve read the book, which I can’t recommend highly enough, keep this idea in mind as you think through these different kinds of websites.

For example, you may be able to start with a niche site that grows in to an authority site. As your site grows and becomes more and more popular, and a better resource for your audience, you can take it to the next level by building a membership site. 

Authority Site

When you think about an authority site think about resources. The content is always high-quality and it comes from a source who’s done their homework. They create content that’s valuable for their audience. It’s a site that’s respected, has deep content, that’s useful, relevant and coming from a voice (or voices) that respected in their particular market. 

Authority sites focus on delivering high quality information to teach, inform, and the best among them entertain while doing it. One of the biggest factors of a quality authority site is the depth of its resources. Great authority sites are great resources for their topic, and consistently deliver great stuff.

Membership Site

Membership sites are becoming more and more popular as a way to build a business. I’m a member of a couple different membership sites, and can attest to their value. I’ve got one myself that I’ve been working on relaunching for a while, and plans for more in the future. They’re a great way to expand an authority site by going deeper and finding new ways to deliver value.

The whole idea behind a membership site is to build a website that serves as an outpost for a community of people who share a common goal or interest. Members pay a monthly membership fee to be a part of the site, and get access to premium content. This is a great way to expand a site that’s already resonating with its audience.

Niche Blog Site

A niche site is a website that’s usually built to serve a very specific market niche. These niches are usually under-served, but bring ample opportunity for some enterprising entrepreneur to build a resource that can serve the market and generate revenue.

I’ve experimented with my own niche sites, have plans for more, but the biggest and most successful that I’ve seen have been done by Pat Flynn and Spencer Haws. Creating these sites and creating great reources are a great way to build revenue.

Niche site building is not for the faint of heart. Niche sites are a lot of really hard work, and if you don’t have an assistant or someone to help you, you’ve got a lot of tedious and demanding work in front of you. But if you’re able to build one that ranks, and you get traffic, it can be a nice stream of income.

Affiliate Site

Affiliate sites are built for the sole purpose of marketing products in order to earn a commission from the sale. 

You’ve seen these sites. You follow a link while searching for something and it’s a site that’s a review site for the thing you’re searching for. I’ve seen them put together for premium WordPress themes, website hosting, software, and more. 

There are some that are well done, but I’ve also run across a lot that aren’t. If you build it right, and can create a great resource for your target visitor, this is definitely something worth exploring, because some of the commissions can be enough to be worth your time and effort.

E-commerce Site

E-commerce sites are a great way for small businesses and entrepreneurs to expand and build new ways to do business online. I’ve always held the opinion that you need to make it as easy as possible for your clients and customers to do business with you online. 

If you have a retail store, or a service, I strongly suggest that you look to find out how you can empower your customers to do business with you online.

If you’re in a business that doesn’t have the kind of traditional product or service offering that you would think would do well online, think outside the box. What can you do to get something for sale online? It can be an information product, physical product, or something else. Get creative.

Personal Brand Site

I first started learning about personal branding by reading Jeffrey Gitomer’s work back in the early 2000s, and I wish I’d paid more attention to his advice about building a personal brand way back then. However, there is no better time than now to get started building your personal brand. 

Creating a personal site to build your authority and name recognition is no longer just the domain of the witty and creative. Those sites are still a great way to grab attention. But building a site where you conistently demonstrate your competence, knowledge, skills, and abilities is a great resource to have in your own toolbox.


Building a quality website takes a lot of work. Set your roadmap for what you want to create, and then get to the business of creating it. Whether it’s a small niche site, a personal brand blog, or any of the others, work hard on it, and make it awesome.

image by Carsten Tolkmit

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