Types of websites (February 2018)

Published February 2018

To website or not to website? Or perhaps, to app or not to app?

No idea what sort of website or app you need? Let me help!

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

The landscape of web design is shifting, which is something I predicted some years ago. Now the time has arrived and it is going to snowball.

Company owners are now faced with a more complex task when it comes to their online representation. It is not only about deciding what type of website they may need but also deciding if they need an app…or both. Some company owners even have to decide if they need to be l.o.T. ready as well.

Hosting is changing a lot with Cloud technology and, at the same time, the way we access the actual Internet. It is important to remember that a website, or even an app, is just a computer program and that it needs something or somewhere to ‘live’ or operate from; normally a server or device

– So it must be understood as devices change… we need to keep up.

Keep up business, or be left behind.

However, I’m happy to say, it is not as complex as you might think…

So let’s get into it!

If I were to give a simple explanation with regards to the biggest difference between an app and a website, I would say the one has offline capabilities (does not need to be connected to the Internet constantly) and the other one does.

A website needs to be online, an app does not. There will always be a grey area. For example HTML5 (a website design code) can manage to run certain operations offline.

There really are 4 types of websites:

Free websites!

These are basically programmed templates from companies that are putting web designers out of work. Automation, so to speak.

There are a number of companies, including hosting companies, offering a variety of template or simple website packages where the user simply needs to upload their content into the framework.

Three of the top sites that offer these programmed templates:

Regular complaints regarding free web packages are that you don’t always own your site, you sometimes get subjected to marketing, search engines don’t always like the websites, and SEO becomes an issue. There is little support for technical issues, and in most cases downtime is higher.

These types of websites are best for very small start-up companies with no other option other than to go for free…. Not an option if you wish to generate 50% or more of your new business through your website.

A point I would also like to make is that people can see if you are using a free website design package … and what does that tell your client?

Shared hosting is sufficient. In this environment, your and other website owners share the resources of one physical server.

Example : www.sonjavanduelmen.com

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Static Websites:

Most websites in the world fall under this category.

These are simple websites in a brochure format of normally 1-5 pages, offering very basic information on the company. They normally include a simple contact form or phone number and email address.

This option is ideal for companies that need a website for simple credibility purposes and want to provide basic information to someone researching what the company is about and offering. Fine if you do not need your client to engage online much more than accessing an email or making a phone call; for example, doctors and dentists.

Set up from R1650 – R4000.

Maintenance costs per year, nearly nothing.

Static websites can also use shared hosting:

Example site: www.assigninternationalservices.com

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Dynamic Websites:

These are the sorts of websites which are responsive (change layout) on the device being used. Normally, multiple pages and menu items.

They use software templates in most cases and have the ability for the website owner to update some of the content without a website designer. (Called CMS = content management system)

I point any start-up company to this type of website. It saves costs for web marketing and updates in the future.

Security on these sites is also better than most options.

They have the ability to use a database, which makes them ideal for more information, and companies like estate agents or online directories love these websites.

They have added features and plug-ins, which can be merged with the website’s framework to help guide users of the website; perhaps get them to engage in ways a static website simply never could, or even just to add some extra flair and excitement.

Set up from R2800 – R9000.

Maintenance costs per year, around R500 - R2000 if the main framework needs to be changed or extra features added post set up.

Dynamic Website - Shared hosting is sufficient, but may need reseller web hosting, which is what we provide. In reseller web hosting, the client gets dedicated support with a faster turnaround time.

Example website: www.spitfirefurniture.co.za

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Ecommerce Websites

They are also called transactional websites. These are dynamic websites with the added features of payment gateways and shopping carts. There are many free or subscription based options for this style of website, but they, too, come with their cons.

Shipping integration / delivery operations is a major challenge for most new companies.

Set up from R13 500 – R30 000.00.

Maintenance costs per year, around R2000 – R10 000, depending on what needs to be done.

E-comm. Website - Shared hosting is sufficient for start-up e-commerce websites. As the site grows in popularity, the site will need to be hosted on a virtual private server or a dedicated server.

An example website: www.edeeshairandbeauty.co.za

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

That is a simple summary of the 4 main types of websites. When picking a type you really need to decide the following:

  • How many pages and menu items?
  • How often do you want to update the website?
  • How much flexibility do you require in terms of look and feel?
  • How much new business do you want the website to generate?
  • How much do you want to actually spend on set up and monthly maintenance?
  • How do your clients like to find your services, and how do they like to interact on the web?

Normally, if you have a fairly certain answer to the above questions, a good web designer can guide you in selecting a solution, but in most cases, it is safest to always go with a dynamic website for the simple reason that it offers the most rand to feature value and options, and can, in most cases, be upgraded or changed without too much fuss.

There is a 5th category called the Advance Website.

These are dynamic websites or e-commerce websites that do not use template or pre-designed standard frameworks, or need to communicate with an app or perhaps link to other devices. These can range from R15 000 – R300 000.00 set up, and from around R15 000.00-R100 000 per month on maintenance.

Advance websites will need to be hosted on a virtual private server or a dedicated server. This allows for more system resources to be dedicated to the website in terms of disk space, memory, CPU usage, etc.

Example website: www.entertainment-online.co.za

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Onto Apps:

You can divide apps into three simple categories.

  • Native Apps. These are the conventional mobile apps.
  • Web Apps. These really are just advance websites, which look like and act like apps.
  • Hybrid Apps. A mixture of both.

How you choose the option for an app is a little more technical than a website, but I do think it comes down to budget and how your clients like to engage.

Developing and maintaining an app can start from R30 000 and be as much as R3 000 000 to launch and maintain - depending on features.

Changing the core features of an app after it has been launched is considerably more costly than a website.

If you are toying with the idea between website and app, or perhaps both, here is a table of comparisons for your consideration – simplified and generalized:

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

In terms of hosting or environments:

Native App:

Start with a shared hosting environment and then migrate to a virtual private server or dedicated server depending on the growth of the site. If the site becomes super popular, then finally make use of Cloud based web hosting.

Example: www.twitter.com or www.snapchat.com

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Hybrid App:

The same applies as with Native App.

Example: www.adobe.com/africa/creativecloud.html or www.workday.com

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Web App:

The same applies as with Native App.

Example: www.dropbox.com or www.zendesk.com

Jean-Pierre Murray-Kline - Internet & Social Media Specialist

Published February 2018

Read more articles


  • While I attempt to ensure information is accurate and up-to-date at time of publication, I will not accept liability should information be used, and found to be incorrect. If you do see an error, please let me know.
  • The links, images, videos and/ or text from this article are not necessarily under my direct management, ownership or care. Should you be the owner or manager of any content herein, and wish for the content to be removed, please let me know and it will be done.