If you’re looking for a creative website design for your business, the array of options can be bewildering. It may seem hard to choose among the many types of sites available. Choosing an effective website design depends first on your target market and then what you want your site to do for you. If you know those two things, your design basics fall quickly into place. Here are 10 tried & true website formats with a few tips about the best use for each one.
The Huffington Post is considered one of the most popular blog sites in the world with 54,000,000 – Estimated Unique Monthly Visitors. Source: eBizMBA Rank, Top 15 Most Popular Blogs | July 2012
1. The Blog
Don’t rule out a blog just because of its humble origin as a personal journal. Blogs are a great way to share good information with your audience, and they have good search engine value. If you’re a solo or small group of consultants or expert service providers, a standalone blog might be the right design for you.
Time Magazine gets 73,950,000 U.S. Monthly Page Views | Source: comScore March 2012
2. Online Magazine
A magazine site features a front page displaying excerpts with images. If you’ve got a business with content that lends itself to stories with strong images, such as real estate, a magazine format might be the creative website design for you.
Behance powers online galleries for several Art & Design Institutions, such as Art Center College of Design,Rhode Island School of Design,and School of Visual Arts (SVA).
On a portfolio or gallery site, the front page features a series of powerful images, often in a carousel. If your products have a strong visual element, you should think about a portfolio site for your creative website design.
In 2012, Fortune ranked IBM the #2 largest U.S. firm in terms of number of employees (433,362), the #4 largest in terms of market capitalization, the #9 most profitable, and the #19 largest firm in terms of revenue.
A corporate site offers a benefit-rich display of the company’s services or an overview of its products arranged in a clear, readable format. I’ve seen effective, creative website design using the corporate structure for companies selling software or services, or other small businesses with major divisions.
HubSpot is known for using itself as an example of the inbound marketing strategy it develops software for.
5. Lead Capture Focused
A lead capture focused site offers a report, ebook, white paper or some other valuable download in exchange for the visitor’s email address or other contact information. Companies use the lead capture site to build their valuable mailing lists.
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer. Source: Jopson, Barney (July 12, 2011). “Amazon urges California referendum on online tax”. FT.com.
Amazon.com is the king of the e-commerce sites, but your e-commerce site doesn’t necessarily have to be as elaborate to be successful. Use an ecommerce format if you have a large number of items for your customers to purchase.
After finding a match on eHarmony, Harris Interactive states that an average of 542 eHarmony members in the United States marry every day. Source: http://video.foxbusiness.com/v/4324601/eharmony-celebrates-10-years-of-online-relationships-/
7. Membership Site
A membership site can be a good way for a company to generate continuing income and build a community around its products or services. A membership site could be popular if your customers have a problem or goal in common.
As of May 2012, Facebook has over 900 million active users, more than half of them using Facebook on a mobile device. Source: Sengupta, Somini (May 14, 2012). “Facebook’s Prospects May Rest on Trove of Data”. The New York Times.
8. Social Media Hub
If a company has a strong presence on social media, a creative website design can also serve as the media hub, a place for the social sites to refer back to and to give customers additional information.
Vectortuts+ offers Adobe Illustrator and vector tutorials, from beginner to advanced
9. Content Focused Site
A content focused site offers information about a chosen topic and attracts search engine traffic to the site. It may be simply one or a few pages with search-engine-optimized content linking to a sales page.
Yelp.com has more than 54 million monthly unique visitors as of late 2010. Source: 2010: Yelp By The Numbers”. Yelp, Inc. Official Blog. 2011-12-15.
10. Review Focused Site
In review focused sites, the site owner or readers review products or services, sometimes receiving affiliate income on sales. In this design, readers develop a trusting relationship with the reviewer(s) and come back again and again for further information.
What’s Your Ideal Creative Website Format?
The important thing to know about these creative formats is that you can mix them. A blog, for instance, is a valuable addition to any site, and lead generation is important to every company. If you go back to those two questions all important marketing questions — Who is your market? and What are you trying to do? — you’ll find that the elements of creative and effective website design become much more clear.