How Websites Differ By Industry

Which pages you'll most commonly find on different types of business websites (by industry)

After working as a copywriter for over 10 years – with over 100 different clients – I’ve come to recognize something:

Every industry – from SaaS to food products – follows certain patterns when it comes to selling online.

The patterns often appear in voice, language, design, content, and the way the websites are structured.

While influenced by “industry best practices” and competitive analysis (and in some cases, straight up copying), these patterns also exist for one main reason:

Different products sell differently online.

What works for one business or industry may not work for another, which is why each industry has its own set of “rules” when it comes to marketing.

In today’s article, I’ve broken down the most common web pages you’ll find within a company’s website / Information Architecture, based on industry.

I focused on 5 industries which I have the most experience with, including:

  • Service-based businesses
  • E-commerce / CPG
  • SaaS companies
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Food & drink

Keep in mind, these are just examples; every business is unique and requires research/strategy to determine which pages are right for the product, customers, and goals of the business.

One final note:

This article is mostly focused on the core pages, which means I omitted pages like terms & conditions/privacy, functionalities (like search bars, chat bots, social icons), or “inner” pages (like checkout pages) that wouldn’t be seen in the main architecture.

Alright, let’s dive in!

Industry #1: Service-based businesses

These are businesses like mine — they’re selling services to customers/clients on an individual or group basis.

Service-based businesses include consulting, copywriting and design services, photographers, cleaning services, coaching, makeup artists, and more.

A typical website of a service-based business is usually focused on:

  • Explaining what the business can offer you (the service itself)
  • How they deliver it (process/approach)
  • Why it’s the right choice for you (how they’re different from alternatives)
  • And providing examples of satisfied customers (case studies, reviews, etc)

The main objective of a service-based website is to get leads to reach out (fill out form, send email, call, etc) or book something (an appointment, free consultation, paid session, etc).

Examples: Alberta Business Grants, Made by Matthews, WPMaintain

Usually has… 

  • Homepage
  • How it works / approach / process
  • Why us / how we’re different
  • Service page(s)
  • Case studies / success stories / reviews
  • Blog (may include newsletter, lead capture, etc)
  • CTA: Contact / book consultation / let’s work together / subscribe

Sometimes has… 

  • Portfolio (or some kind of “work” showcase)
  • Audience-specific pages
  • Pricing page

Industry #2: E-comm / CPG

E-commerce and CPG (consumer packaged goods) businesses are typically selling a physical product directly to consumers (and occasionally through a third-party vendor).

E-comm and CPG businesses include things like beauty products, clothing, furniture, toys, toothpaste, and more.

A typical e-comm website is usually focused on:

  • The product and shopping experience (which translates into a focus on the Homepage, navigation, individual product pages, and checkout experience)
  • Pages that “support” the shopping experience (like shipping/delivery, returns/exchanges,  contact, etc)

The main objective of an e-comm website is to get you to buy the product (ideally right now).

Examples: Glossier, Risewell, Veronica Beard

Usually has… 

  • Homepage
  • Shop / category pages (i.e. by product type, occasion, top sellers, new, sale, etc)
  • Individual product page(s)
  • About us
  • Contact
  • Blog / newsletter
  • Returns / exchanges
  • Shipping / delivery
  • Gift cards
  • Careers
  • Shopping cart / bag
  • Sign in / Customer account
  • CTA: Shop / Buy now

Sometimes has… 

  • Customer support page or help center
  • Charity / philanthropy
  • Locations / where to buy
  • Audience-specific pages (i.e. affiliates, ambassadors, investors, press, etc)

Industry #3: SaaS companies

SaaS (or software as a service) businesses are typically selling a product (in this case, software) to other businesses (B2B) and includes things like website hosting, email service providers, research tools, CRM, file-hosting platforms, and more.

A typical SaaS website is usually focused on:

  • Addressing visitors’ challenges/pain points
  • Explaining how/why the software can help alleviate the challenges/pain points
  • Showcasing the product (full platform and/or individual features)
  • Highlighting differentiators (like “why us” + comparison pages), benefits or outcomes, and showcasing results from satisfied customers

The main objective of a SaaS website is to get you to create an account (free or paid, depending on the business) or request information (i.e. book a demo, request pricing, etc).

Examples: Podia, Shopify, Mailchimp

Usually has… 

  • Homepage
  • Platform (feature overview) page
  • Individual product(s) / features page(s)
  • Why us
  • Plans / Pricing
  • Examples / case studies / success stories / reviews
  • Resources (blog, newsletter, webinars, podcast, guides, etc)
  • About us / team
  • Careers
  • Contact / Customer support / Help Center
  • Sign in / Customer account
  • CTA: Get started / start your free trial / book free demo

Sometimes has…

  • How it works page(s)
  • Benefit / outcomes page
  • Industry, audience, or use-case specific pages
  • Comparison pages
  • Charity / philanthropy
  • Documentation (for developers)

Industry #4: Non-profit organizations

A non-profit is an organization focused on a specific philanthropic effort, like saving the rainforest or ending world hunger.

A typical non-profit website is usually focused on:

  • The problem (often there’s more than one “threat”)
  • How the organization is fighting back (including their solution(s) and/or approach)
  • The organization’s mission/vision and the goals they’re aiming for
  • Educating leads with free resources

The main objective of a non-profit website is to collect donations and to inspire visitors to take action.

Examples: World Wildlife Fund, Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Planned Parenthood

Usually has… 

  • Homepage
  • Problem / facts / threats / challenge page(s)
  • Solution / projects / what we do page(s)
  • How we work / our approach
  • Mission / vision
  • Resources (educational pages, articles, news, blog, newsletter, etc)
  • About us / team
  • Careers / join us / volunteer
  • Tax / financial info
  • Search
  • CTA: Donate / take action / get involved

Sometimes has…

  • Goals / commitment / campaign pages
  • Progress page(s)
  • Partner pages

Industry #5: Food & Drink

Food and drink businesses are similar to e-commerce in terms of website structure and content (a focus on the products/shopping experience), but they typically differ in these two ways:

  • More information about the products (i.e. how they’re made, ingredients, sourcing, etc)
  • More information on how to use the products (i.e. recipes, demos, use cases, etc)

And depending on the product, you may not be able to buy it directly from the website, but only through a third-party vendor (typically applies to bigger food brands, liquor, and products that have a short shelf life, like dairy).

Another difference between food / drink websites and e-comm is more of an emphasis on the “brand story” and/or mission, etc.

I suspect this has to do with the fact that overall, a food/drink website has fewer products than an e-comm website and has more room to focus on those aspects.

It may also have to do with the factors that influence purchase decisions for different types of products (i.e. perhaps customers care more about the brand story of food vs a pair of shoes they bought because they looked cool).

The main objective of a food / drink website is to get you to buy the product now or learn where you can find/buy it.

Examples: Chobani, Fishwife, Spindrift

Usually has… 

  • Homepage
  • Shop/category pages (i.e. browse by product type, ingredient type, packs, etc)
  • Individual product page(s)
  • How to use / consume (recipes, tutorials, etc)
  • About us / our story / our team
  • Careers
  • Contact us / customer support
  • Returns
  • Sign in / customer account
  • CTA: Shop / buy / subscribe

Sometimes has…

  • How we’re different / our approach / how it’s made / philosophy
  • Ingredients / quality / sourcing
  • Sustainability / eco information
  • Where to buy (store locator, vendor info, etc)
  • Merch
  • Gift cards

How does this impact YOUR website?

Hopefully you now have a clearer sense of what kind of content and/or pages may be appropriate for your website when you’re structuring your Information Architecture.

However, as I mentioned above, these are just general examples based on observational data.

There’s nothing in this article that will tell you which pages are right for YOUR business, how to order them in your website navigation, what kind of content goes on each page, and so on.

To build an effective website, you need to combine customer research and content strategy in a way that supports YOUR business goals – and the goals of YOUR visitors.

If you’re interested in learning a simple process for how to do that, keep an eye out for the second opening of my 4-week bootcamp, How to Build Websites That Convert (cart opens end of Jan!).

As always, thank you for reading.

If you have any questions, comment below. If you found this article helpful, please share it with a friend or colleague. 🙂

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