Brochure Sites Brochure sites are very common. Their purpose is to act as an extension to a company's sales and marketing efforts. They usually "don't do anything" other than provide information to prospective buyers or clients with the hope that the company will be contacted by e-mail or phone for more information. MariosAlexandrou.com is a brochure site. In my case, this site is an extension of my ongoing efforts to sell my custom software development services. On this site I include copies of my resume, samples of my work, and descriptions of some software tools I have created, but, as with all brochure sites, this site "doesn't do anything". E-Commerce Sites E-commerce sites are those whose primary purpose is to sell you goods. One of the most widely recognized sites in this category is Amazon.com. These sites are often the most expensive to build, but can also be the most lucrative for the owner. Those with small budgets can opt for a pre-packaged e-commerce solution such as those offered by Amazon.com and Yahoo.com, but these often fail to distinguish your company from the 100 other companies selling the same product. I'm clearly biased, but in my opinion you're better off having some custom software development done to meet your business' specific needs. Visitors to e-commerce sites often know what it is they want and so it behooves the e-commerce site to help them find it. At the same time these sites want to show you information about other products (referred to as up-selling and cross-selling) so that you'll spend more money. Because of this need to show you what you're looking for while at the same time sell you related items, e-commerce site employ some of the most sophisticate search engine technology available. Don't believe me? Next time you have a chance visit Amazon.com. Search for anything you want. The search engine will almost always find something that matches. If you've ever searched for or bought anything at Amazon.com you've probably also noticed that related products keep showing up on the screen. That's the search engine at work. Communities Web communities come in all sizes, but in all cases they bring together people that share a common interest. I'm part of several software development communities. Years ago when I owned an aquarium, I visited aquarium related web sites for information and tips on how best to care for my fish. Sometimes web communities are run by people who are also looking to sell products or services. However, if the community doesn't contain useful and timely information, then any sales pitches will be likely fall on deaf ears. Tricking people in to buying something might work once or twice, but it's more effective to build trust and provide value. Portals Portals, as the name implies, act as gateways to information from various sources. The goal behind a portal is provide relevant information to user's without requiring the user to spend a lot of time searching. Ideally the information gathered is tailored to the visitor.An example of this type of site is a corporate intranet portal which brings together documents and resources from many departments within the company. This can be particularly helpful when a company has many offices around the country or world. Employees of the company are then able to search for company related information that other employees have published. This information can be simple things like a phone directory or more sensitive information such as market research reports. A good example of a public portal is Yahoo.com although some might argue that in recent years Yahoo has grown beyond just being a portal. Search Engines Search engines are probably the single most useful tool on the Internet. Without them it would be next to impossible to find anything. By many accounts, the best search engine is Google.com. With a few clicks you can usually find answers to questions or, at the very least, a good starting point for where to look. Chances are you won't build a search engine, but it is important to know about them and understand how they work. Businesses should be particularly concerned with the details of how search engines work since they can be used as an inexpensive advertising tool.