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Understanding the Purposes of a Website

written by: Robin L.•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 9/11/2009

Finding the web site purpose is essential to effective planing and the process of your web site design project.

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    What is the Purpose of a Website?

    When you decide to build a website it is important to determine the purpose of the website prior to development. This can save you time and money by allowing you to focus on your specific goals and design parameters. This will also allow your target audience to quickly and easily determine if your web site is what they had been searching for. The first question you should ask yourself when deciding the purppose of your web site is, do I want my web site to generate revenue? The answer to this one question will allow you to then begin narrowing the definition of your purpose.

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    Commercial Website

    If you want a web site that generates revenue you will need to build a commercial web site. A commercial web site typically does one of three things. First, it can be used to support an offline business. You can direct people to it for general information about your business and services. Second, it can be used to bring customers to your business on its own. People would find your business after searching on the internet for the type of service you provide and then contact you after browsing your web site. Finally, you could make your services or products available via your web site. In this instance your new customers would actually be able to buy the product or service they want from the web site instead of having to call or come into your business.

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    Information Distribution Website

    If you are not interested in making a profit from your web site you are most likely going to develop an informative web site. It should be noted that information sites can also be profitable through third party advertisers but the primary purpose is to distribute information and not to obtain sales.

    There are several ways to distribute information on the internet. Two of the most popular are archive sites and community sites. An archival, or database, site allows you to offer information on a topic that is usually searchable by topic for your guests. This is preferred for large amounts of information on specific topics. The second is a community site. These allow guests with similar interests to gather in one location and share information about themselves and about their topic of interest. In this instance you would need to make sure the content matched your target audience.

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    Benefits of the Purposes of a Website

    By determining the web site purpose you will be better able to plan an effective web site design. You must focus on the image you want to portray and then offer the content needed to keep your guests interested and engaged. Offering content that has a specific purpose is one of the hallmarks of a great web site.