Understanding the Seven Website Archetypes

Choosing the right business model and supporting infrastructure for any business is a key strategy for business success, especially in website publishing.

Gas stations, supermarkets and bookstores are all retail businesses. They all resell products, yet the specifics of their business models and their physical infrastructures are very different. Optimizing those specifics will support higher revenue, lower operating costs and happier customers.

Online publishing also supports different business models and each business model requires specific infrastructure to optimize the user experience, maximize revenue and keep costs low. Unlike a physical gas station or bookstore operator, the successful online publisher interacts with their customer in a virtual infrastructure. The nexus of this virtual infrastructure—the website—is defined by its information architecture.

Archetypes and Sub Archetypes

The Mequoda Research Team has analyzed more than 2,000 media websites and concluded there are seven primary website archetypes—or basic templates from which all other similar websites are patterned. Archetypes are found everywhere. There are television archetypes, like sitcoms, and character archetypes, like villains. Each of the seven website archetypes has many sub archetypes that represent significant variations on the primary theme.

Television provides a perfect example to further illustrate the archetype concept.

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Television Archetypes

Early television shows were based on media archetypes borrowed from stage, film and radio. Because many early producers came from radio, many early TV shows were radio with pictures. Eventually, those archetypes evolved to better suit the new medium.

Today, TV producers draw on a rich array of television archetypes that include:

  • Situation Comedies
  • Reality Shows
  • Dramas
  • News Magazines
  • Game Shows

Each archetype can be represented best by an actual show or a collection of shows that are classic examples of the format.

Website Archetypes

Designing a website while fully understanding website archetypes will best encourage users to interact with your media brand, develop a trusted relationship, and generate website revenue for your organization in the process.

After reviewing more than 2,000 media websites, we’ve identified six unique archetypes plus a seventh hybrid that combines two or more of the six unique archetypes into a common user interface. Together they are the seven Mequoda Website Archetypes that we now use to set best practices for all media websites.

The Mequoda Website Archetypes include:

  • Membership
  • Retail
  • Brand
  • Internet Hubs
  • Classified
  • Lead Generation
  • Hybrid

Using Archetypes to Optimize the User Experience

Each archetype supports a unique business model or method of generating revenue. Matching the right archetype to the right business model is key to online publishing success. If the archetype and the business model are not in sync, success is limited. In fact, of the more than 2,000 media websites surveyed, the vast majority of those websites contributed less than 10 percent of total media brand revenue for 2006.

In our new webinar, Generating Website Revenue, we look at media websites that are generating more than 10 percent of total brand revenue to illustrate the seven archetypes identified by the Mequoda Group as best practice archetypes. We also look at a number of sub archetypes in depth and, finally, we review how the most advanced online publishers are building website networks that use multiple archetypes and business models to maximize their online publishing revenues.


The concepts revealed in this report are those that launched the Mequoda System back in 2004. If publishers don’t have an understanding of the seven website archetypes, executing a successful online business will be very difficult. This is the knowledge that separates publishers who are making money online with those that are not.


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