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Define Purpose of the Website

by Ron Kurtus (updated 21 December 2022)

Before you design or develop a website, you need to define the purpose of the site. Determine what you or your client hopes to achieve by having a website.

Is your website a personal site with a compilation of items of interest to you and your friends? Is it a business site, where you are letting potential customers know what you have to offer and perhaps allow them to make online purchase? Or is the purpose of your site to offer information, opinions or educational material?

Questions you may have include:

This lesson will answer those questions.

Personal website

Many people have personal websites, where they display material and personal pictures. More recently, people have gone into having a blog which allows them to post their thoughts without formally having their own URL and going through a hosting service.

The purpose for such a website may be for ego gratification or expression by providing a place for thoughts, experiences, opinions and perhaps pictures. It can also be a good place to post your resume and advertise your skills, if looking for a job.

For example, Seth loved music and wanted a website to express his views about the bands he liked, as well as to compile a listing of the songs they produced.

If you are designing the website for yourself, knowing what you want to achieve is a good idea but not essential. If you are designing the site for someone else, it is good to know the motivations, although sometimes it is difficult to find out the real reasons from a person.

Business or e-commerce

Anyone in business should have a website to act as an electronic brochure, catalog, storefront, and place for customer service. You want your website to be a good representation of you or your business. A website is an electronic posting of information. It can be like a brochure or calling card.

A website is actually a storefront for a business, organization or professional person. It must be readily accessible. It must provide material that a potential customer is looking for. There must be a way to purchase the material or to contact you.

Harold owned a small chemical cleaning business. He contracted a local web designer to create and set up a website, that included pictures of his building and staff.

But afterwards, he was disappointed with the results. He had thought that once you have a website, business will increase exponentially. Instead, few people even visited the website.

The designer did not realize what Harold's expectations were nor did he inform him of the reality of web traffic.

If you are designing a website for your own business, you need to know what you hope to achieve by the website. Likewise, if you are designing a client's website, you need to know the person's expectations.

Information or education

Many websites provide information about subject of interest from the owner, as well as tutorials or opinions. Some consist of forums where users ask questions and discuss matter concerning the these of the website.

Many schools have online classes available. There are also online encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, where people can find information they want.

You need to know the expectations and purpose for such a website. Is it to attract people to the school? Is it to provide information to your students or to the general public? Is it to make money from its ads? The web designer need to find out the true purpose of the site.


You need to define the purpose of the website or your client's website.

The purpose of a personal website may be to express the owner's views or for ego gratification. The purpose of a business website may be for advertising, while an e-commerce site may be to make sales. The purpose of an informational website may be to help students or to make money from ads.

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