Identifying the purpose of your website is an important part of building or redesigning a website.

Once you know what you want your website to achieve you can set your website goals and strategies, crucial steps for making your website a valuable contributor to your business or nonproft.

This article shows you how to identify the purpose of your website and how to achieve it.

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What is the purpose of your website?

To justify the time, effort and funds they consume, websites need reasons to exist.

For hobbyists the reason may simply be sharing their passion. For IT geeks it may be the love of writing code.

But business and nonprofit websites need more practical reasons. To justify their existence, these websites must make real contributions to achieving organisation goals.

Website purpose definition
The purpose of business and nonprofit websites is to contribute to achieving organisation goals.

Following are some common website purposes:

  • Making online sales
  • Generating leads
  • Building email subscription lists
  • Educating, informing and presenting
  • Nonprofit websites
  • Receiving donations
  • Building interested and involved audiences
  • Establishing organisation reputation
  • Building communities and enabling connections

We explore these purposes and provide tips for achieving them in Common website purposes (below).

Once you know the outcomes you want your website to achieve, you (or your website developer) can develop goals and strategies for achieving them.

What is a website purpose statement?

A website purpose statement describes the outcomes a website is intended to achieve.

Following is a website purpose statement for a business providing online services:

Establish our expertise in the field of X, build an email subscription list and sell our services online.

This short statement contains a lot of information about the website, for example, in order to:

  • Establish our expertise in the field of X the website could host informative how-to content (e.g. blog posts; videos; podcasts)
  • Build an email subscription list the website needs subscription forms, a content publishing strategy to attract relevant visitors and perhaps a lead magnet (e.g. an ebook in exchange for a subscription)
  • Sell our services online the website needs features, plans and pricing pages, a checkout and payment facility, and client terms

A website purpose statement is of most use to designers and developers building new websites or reworking existing websites because it helps them understand the functions and features they need to include.

At Trailhead Studio we encourage our website development clients to write a purpose statement as part of their website design brief.

But they are also useful as a website introduction for staff and experts managing the security and legal aspects of a website.

You see more website purpose statement examples below.

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Tips for writing your website purpose statement

Follow these tips for writing an effective website purpose statement:

Write from your organisation’s perspective

Write your website purpose statement from your organisation’s perspective, not your audience’s.

For example, from the audience’s perspective the purpose of an entertainment website (e.g. Netflix) is to entertain.

However, from the website owner’s perspective the purpose of an entertainment website is to sell memberships. Entertaining people is how the website achieves this purpose.

Write what, not how

Your website purpose statement should outline the outcomes you want your website to achieve but not how to achieve them. This is the role of your website goals and strategies.

Include conversion action(s)

Most websites should include at least one purpose that requires website visitors to take a conversion action, such as subscribing, purchasing or donating.

For example, a content creator’s website purpose statement could include:

build an email subscription list and provide a member resource library

Subscribing and registering for membership (free or paid) are conversion actions.

Consult colleagues

Ask colleagues the outcomes they need from the organisation’s website. This is especially important for large organisations to ensure all relevant departments get what they need.

Identify when payment required

Specify when people should pay for something on your website, as taking online payments requires more functions and triggers more demanding hosting, security and legal needs.

Some websites are obviously commercial (e.g. an online store) so don’t need clarification. But others are less clear, such as a membership area, which you may provide free to attract subscriptions or for a fee to generate income.

Be clear, specific and concise

Write your website purpose statement to be:

  • Clear – Accurately communicates your website purpose with no risk of misinterpretation
  • Specific – States actual outcomes not vague ideas
  • Concise – A sentence or two that provides a summary rather than a complete overview (you can provide more detail in your website brief)

Website purpose statement examples

Use the following examples as inspiration to write your own website purpose statement:

The purpose of our website is to…

Example 1. Ecommerce store
demonstrate client satisfaction, build an email subscription list and sell products.

Example 2. Online service provider
establish our expertise in the field of X, build an email subscription list and sell our services online.

Example 3. Offline service provider (e.g. a plumber)
inform people of our services, demonstrate our reputation for serving the local community and generate enquiries and quote requests.

Example 4. Nonprofit
inform people of the issues and our campaigns, enable advocacy actions, demonstrate our achievements, receive donations, accept volunteer applications, and build an email subscription list.

Example 5. Content creator
build an interested and involved audience, build an email subscription list and provide a member area for download resources and online courses (free and paid).

Common website purposes

Following is a roundup of common website purposes and examples of how to achieve them.

Most businesses and nonprofits have one or both of the first two purposes listed here as their primary purpose(s) with any number of the following purposes as secondary purposes.

Making online sales

Websites can sell physical products and/or services.

Offline services (e.g. garden maintenance) can also be sold online, but more often offline service providers use their websites to generate leads (next).

Setting up a sales facility on a website is inexpensive. However, to be successful, ecommerce stores need to meet high website load speed, website maintenance and website security standards.

You may also need to meet more stringent legal requirements than non-sales websites, such as requiring customers to agree to your business terms and conditions when creating an account or making a purchase.

Online sales website examples:

  • Ecommerce stores selling physical products (e.g. books; cosmetics; household equipment)
  • Online services (e.g. accounting software; website hosting; apps)
  • Memberships (e.g. resource libraries; professional forums; entertainment)
  • Online courses

Generating leads

Selling online in not suitable for all businesses and it is not a relevant purpose for nonprofit websites (except those selling merchandise to raise funds).

For these organisations, lead generation is a strong reason for having a website.

A lead is a contact from a potential customer or supporter. So the aim of lead generation websites is to motivate and enable people to make an enquiry or provide their contact details.

Our Tradie portfolio site is a good example of a lead generation website with a quote request form, telephone number and contact button prominently positioned above the fold on the home page.

Tips for generating leads:
Provide any of the following to generate leads:

  • Online forms (e.g. contact and information request forms)
  • Quote requests
  • A phone number
  • Instant message service
  • A lead magnet or ethical bribe (e.g. a useful download or free gift)
  • A subscribe box attached to advocacy actions (e.g. petitions)

Building email subscription lists

Building an email subscription list is a form of lead generation (see previous) but it is such an important strategy that we are giving it a special mention.

Attracting people to your website is hard and once they leave they may never return. But, secure their email address while on your website and you can communicate with them whenever you want.

Despite the dominance of social media, email is still a crucial online marketing strategy. The proof of this is seen in the major online business and nonprofit websites that still collect emails.

Tips for building an email list:
Provide any of the following in return for a subscription:

  • A lead magnet or ethical bribe (e.g. a useful download or free gift)
  • A member area (e.g. a resource library)
  • A short course (deliver the course over a few emails)
  • A useful, informative or fun e-newsletter
  • A subscribe box attached to advocacy actions (e.g. petitions)

Educating, informing and presenting

A few websites exist only to educate and inform an audience, such as government service websites, some nonprofit websites and Wikipedia.

However, most websites educate and inform to achieve their primary purposes of making sales and generating leads. For example, websites selling online courses or publishing blog posts.

Websites with a presentation purpose include photographer, artist and designer portfolio websites. Once again, presentation websites are often run to generate sales and leads.

Education, information and presentation website examples:

  • Government service websites
  • Nonprofit websites raising awareness of environment and social issues
  • Product and service websites
  • Online course websites
  • News websites
  • Reference websites (e.g. Wikipedia; dictionaries)
  • Portfolio websites

Nonprofit websites

Nonprofit organisation websites can be complex, so we’ve given them a category of their own.

Often a nonprofit website’s primary purpose is to raise awareness about the issues the organisation is campaigning to solve.

But educating and informing is not enough. To contribute to achieving organisation goals, nonprofit websites must also inspire and enable people to act or change, both on the website (e.g. sign petitions; donate) and in the real world (e.g. stop littering; use public transport).

Nonprofit websites typically also work to build the organisation email list and accept donations, and sometimes sell merchandise to raise funds.

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Receiving donations

Enabling online donations is an important purpose of most nonprofit websites.

Making donating simple is key to succeeding with online donations. Include easily found donate buttons on every page of your website, as seen on our Social Change portfolio website, and provide a straightforward payment process once people have clicked to donate.

Tips for receiving donations:

  • Check your organisation meets legal requirements for accepting donations
  • Place donate buttons in prominent positions, including the header
  • Tell people what their donations achieve (e.g. a world where no child goes hungry)
  • Make donating quick and simple
  • Ask permission to keep donors informed (build your email list)
  • Send a thank you email

Building interested and involved audiences

Building an interested and involved audience is a smart move for every business and nonprofit website, but especially for those that use blogging to attract website traffic and make sales.

As with achieving many of the website purposes discussed here, gaining audience interest and involvement takes time and effort. But that effort pays off when your audience sees you as a friendly advisor rather than a commercial enterprise.

Tips for building audience interest and involvement:

  • Publish content that genuinely helps people
  • Go easy on selling
  • Publish blog posts under personal names (not the organisation name)
  • Write chatty blog posts that read like a conversation with friends
  • Ask for comments on blog posts and reply in a friendly, encouraging way
  • Ask your audience to share your blog posts

Establishing organisation reputation

Your website is a window into your organisation. If people like what they see through the window they are more likely to become customers or supporters.

Every element of your website is important for establishing a positive reputation, from your website design to the content you publish and the speed your website loads on people’s devices.

Don’t try to bluff a positive reputation. People will see through your attempts and trust you less. Put in the work and over time you will reap the benefits of a genuinely good reputation.

Tips for establishing organisation reputation:

  • Demonstrate expertise in your field
  • Demonstrate your achievements
  • Provide customer or supporter testimonials
  • Demonstrate your positive environment or community actions
  • Show your efforts to be a sustainable organisation

Building communities and enabling connections

Websites can have the purpose of building a community or connecting people, either for a fee or for free.

When running such a site, collect users’ email addresses and permission to keep them updated and make offers. Even if you don’t have something to sell now, you may do later.

Community and connection website examples:

  • Online forums (e.g. to seek advise and discuss common interests)
  • Employment listings
  • Directories (e.g. tradespeople)
  • Skills and item exchanges
  • Dating sites
  • Social media platforms


Many businesses and nonprofits use their websites to make sales and generate leads. But website are capable of achieving so much more. Writing a website purpose statement helps you communicate the outcomes you want your website to achieve.

Get in touch for an obligation free chat about your website project