Website, Landing Page, Microsite? What's the difference?
There are many types of websites, our clients ask us about them a lot - microsite, landing page, web app, etc. What are they and how are they different from each other? Which one(s) should you have? We'll look at each of them from the simplest to the most complex.
This is just a single page. It may be the entire website, but it is typically just a page that is used to provide succinct information before linking to the main website or some other call-to-action. It can have it's own domain (e.g. landingpage.com vs mycompany.com) but doesn't have to. These pages are designed to be as search engine friendly as possible and focus on conversions. They typically have a laser like focus on one task. However, due to their simplicity they aren't able to provide as much data in the form of analytics as other types of sites. They will also never be able to build up a high domain authority with search engines (although they can still rank very well for targeted searches.)
Great for: advertising specific products or services, very new businesses
Not great for: a main website for anything but the smallest of businesses, a complicated product or service, analytics and SEO
Microsites and small, self-contained websites that fulfill a certain purpose. The biggest difference between a microsite and a full-fledged website is that it is not the main site for a company. They usually has less than 10 pages but could be as large as about 30 pages. They often have their own domain (e.g. mymicrosite.com) but could be hosted on a sub-domain (e.g. microsite.mycompany.com). Since, they are larger than landing pages (and similarly sized to some primary websites) they get all of the advantages of these sites, in terms of more advanced analytics and better SEO possibilities. The UI and design elements should be consistent throughout the microsite but can vary from the main website design.
Great for: advertising products or services
Not great for: information about the business (that should be on the main site)
A website is a very vague term nowadays and it can really encompass all types but for the purposes of this article we'll use it to mean the main site for a company. It could be just a landing page or anything larger. Most companies should have a website that contains information about their business, the products and/or services they offer and how to contact them. The main company website represents the face of the business to online users. A well designed website will rank highly on search engines, have good domain authority and provide a wealth of analytics information.
Great for: Providing information about your company, products and/or services, SEO, analytics
Not great for: Providing key information as a glance (i.e. even a well designed product page on a main website will likely not convert as well as having a landing page for that product)
This is the most complex type of website. It's really more than just a website though. A web app requires a complicated back-end system to drive some sort of dynamic content. Possibly the simplest way to differentiate a website from a web app is a web app is interactive while a website isn't. A simple e-commerce site is a good example of a web app, although most web apps are far more complex than that.
Necessary for: Web apps are really quite different from the other three so the line between them is more cut and dried. Anywhere the user needs to interact with the system.
Not necessary for: Informational websites.