Your Website: Update, Refresh, or Redesign?

Let’s say that you like the basic look of your website, but you’re not getting the results you want. Do you need a new website, or can you just update it — refresh it a bit, in other words, and keep going?

A refresh is like reupholstering your old sofa. If the basic structure is sound, you can make some changes in the content (the words and pictures) and end up with something fresh and usable for less than the cost of a complete redesign or a new website.

If there are real problems with your basic structure, though, as might be the case if your old sofa has broken springs and the dog has chewed on the legs, or if it wasn’t that good a piece of furniture to begin with, then reupholstering is just an added expense that won’t keep you from having to buy a new sofa. You’ll still get some results from making those little changes, but you’d be better off investing in a complete redesign.

Ask yourself these questions:

How’s the structure?

If your site was built recently with modern code, it’s not using Flash and graphics where it should have text, and the navigation works well, then you may be fine without a redesign. If it was built with old tech and doesn’t work well on mobile, then you’ll have to have it rebuilt.

You may also need a fresh new design if the current structure doesn’t work for your business. Start by getting a clear understanding of your target customer’s path to purchase. Determine the best navigation for that path. Determine the structure that will work best for your business. Then compare that with your current structure. Do you just need some tweaks, or do you need to start over?

Keep track of problems at your website, too. An old theme might not keep up with the plugins you use and update regularly. You might see compatibility issues. Or your site may begin to look bad on some browsers. You can often fix these things as they come up, but there’s a point at which it makes sense to start over.

Finally, you might not have problems, but you might be able to benefit from new technology. For example, a WordPress site that is regularly updated may continue to function for years — but you might want to bring in more rich media or to add new ways to book appointments or pay bills. A structure that supports and spotlights new things could be a good choice. 

How’s the design?

The design of your website has to do with the main colors, typography, and where things like headers and navigation buttons are. With a well-made website, you may be able to add new elements, increase or decrease the number of words, and otherwise fool around with the site quite a bit without disturbing the design. If the design is poor, though, changing the pictures won’t improve the usability.

Web design begins to look dated after a few years. At some point, old-fashioned design can begin to make your organization look old-fashioned, too.

If you spend a lot of time at your website, you might feel tired of the site. That doesn’t mean that your visitors are tired of it. Get some unbiased opinions before you change your design. If you have a WordPress site and it’s just a matter of changing your theme, make sure that the new theme will work well for you before you commit.

How’s the content?

This is what you can readily change — assuming your website is built well to begin with. You can have completely new words and images for a fraction of the cost of a redesign. Since search engines care most about your content, this can make the biggest difference for your website’s performance in your business.

The problem is, you have to be able to tell.

Often, site owners think that a new picture will fix their site, when they have a poor user experience or bad code. Equally often, owners delay making improvements because they don’t realize that a content update will keep their website working well for another year or two.

Use your end-of-year site checkup to decide how much of a revamping your website needs. We’ll be happy to provide a diagnosis for you if you’re not sure.

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