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Make Updates or Rebuild? How to Know What Your Website Needs

With design accounting for 94% of your target audience’s first impression of your website, it’s pretty darn important you get it right.

But every so often, you might find yourself standing at the crossroads of your website’s journey. It’s time to make a crucial decision. Should you:

  1. Update your existing site: Changing content, images, and maybe a few aesthetic elements
  2. Rebuild your website: Changing the design, content, and implementing better technology

As a website owner, you might feel a bit lost in the web design and development world, unsure of which path to choose. But fret not, my friend. I’m here, ready to soothe your web design worries.

This informative blog post will help you make a confident, fully informed decision for your website. By the end of this post, I hope you’ll know whether website updates or a rebuild is right for you. Are you ready? Let’s dive right in!

The Difference Between Updating and Rebuilding Your Website

Before you decide whether your website needs updating or a complete rebuild, you need to know the difference between them. Let’s bring in one of my favorite analogies: Your website is a house that needs a makeover!

Home Updates: Making updates to your home would involve tasks like repainting the walls, replacing furniture, or adding new decor elements. These changes enhance the aesthetics and functionality without tearing down the entire structure.

Website Updates: Similarly, making updates to your website involves modifying the design, adding new content, rearranging elements, or refreshing branding. These updates improve the appearance, user experience, and functionality without starting from scratch.

Home Rebuilding: If your existing home has severe structural issues, outdated plumbing, or an inefficient layout, rebuilding becomes a non-negotiable. This involves demolishing the structure and building a new one from the ground up, in line with modern standards.

Website Rebuilding: When your website has significant issues, outdated technology, poor performance, or an inefficient structure, rebuilding is the recommended approach. It entails starting fresh, redesigning the website, and developing it using modern technologies and best practices.

Just as a home builder, architect, and interior designer work together to create a new home, web developers, web designers, and content specialists collaborate to rebuild a website. Some offer all these services in one place (like me!), while others focus on one service, like web design or development.

When to Make Updates to Your Existing Website

If your site is fairly new and built well, you should be totally safe to make content updates to your site, no matter how big or small they are, such as adding pages, changing images, or even adding ecommerce.

You should also be able to make some aesthetic changes to your site, such as swapping out your old branding for your new branding (i.e. colors, fonts, logo).

Let’s explore some scenarios where making updates to your existing site might be the right choice for you.

Outdated Design

Is your website sporting a look that feels like it belongs in a ’90s vintage store? Updating your existing site can work wonders in transforming your website’s visual appeal. We’ll revamp the visual elements of the design, embracing modern aesthetics and making it feel like a brand new site!

Poor User Experience

Does navigating through your website feel like traversing a convoluted maze? Updating your website can prioritize user experience by streamlining navigation, simplifying the site’s structure, and ensuring that your visitors find what they’re seeking easily – whether they’re on your website via desktop or mobile devices.

Content in Disarray

Over time, your website’s content might have become disorganized or overwhelming. When you make updates to your website, you’re able to declutter and optimize your content for search engines, making it more accessible, engaging, and user-friendly. This could be just what your content strategy (and marketing strategy) needed!

Mobile Optimization Could Use an Upgrade

In our mobile-dominated world, a responsive design is essential for mobile users. If you’ve added content over a few years, some things may have gone wonky with your mobile friendliness. This is something that could be addressed as part of a website update.

The Pitfalls of Making Updates to an Old Website

Is your website five years old or more? Sadly, that changes things. Updating an old website, unless the updates are minor tweaks like adding a photo or changing some text, is not ideal. In fact, it could do more harm than good if your website is well past its expiry date. Here’s why:

Fragile Older Technology

Older technology is prone to breaking easily, leading to website malfunctions and crashes. As time goes on, the software that powered your old website becomes more fragile and susceptible to issues — no matter how pretty the site updates might be.

Vulnerability to Hackers

Outdated technology is an open invitation to hackers. You see, older themes and software used in your website will eventually stop receiving necessary security support and updates, leaving you exposed to potential security breaches. It sucks, but that’s the way it is!

Lack of Support

Online technology evolves at the speed of light, and the tools and techniques that were once groundbreaking can quickly become obsolete. As time passes, the support and knowledge for that older technology diminish, and finding someone who can navigate and repair that outdated tech becomes nearly impossible!

Limited Design Capabilities

Older themes lack the ability to implement the latest web design trends that capture your user’s attention. It’s like going back to using an old flip phone after experiencing the wonders of a modern smartphone – you’re restricted in what you can do, and it makes you look dated!

Time-Consuming Fixes

Even the smallest changes can become frustratingly time-consuming for your web developer (been there!) when working with outdated technology. Making modifications or implementing new features may need intricate workarounds or even prove impossible.

When to Build a New Website

There are instances when website updates won’t suffice to address the underlying issues plaguing your website. If you have a pretty old site (old in terms of design or technology) and you want to add pages or features, it could turn into a much larger project than you had imagined.

This is because your website’s software might not play nicely with these updates, and it might make more sense to rebuild with more modern software. In other words, it could take less time to build you a new site than it would take to navigate the mess going on in the backend.

In these cases, developing a website from scratch is your best option. Here are some situations where rebuilding your website is the way to go:

Outdated Technology

If your website was built using outdated technology or a different tech stack, it can pose challenges for maintenance, updates, and integration with modern tools. By rebuilding your website with a contemporary content management system like WordPress along with a well-supported theme and page builder, you’ll have a solid foundation for easier management and future scalability.

Optimal Performance

Is your website struggling with sluggish loading times, frequent crashes, or difficulties handling increased traffic? These performance issues can hamper user experience and search engine rankings. A rebuild will equip your website with optimized code and infrastructure, ensuring lightning-fast speed and exceptional performance.

Customizability and Flexibility

If your current website lacks flexibility and customization options, a rebuild allows you to start afresh. Platforms like WordPress offer a wide range of themes – such as my preferred theme, Beaver Builder – and plugins, empowering you to create a unique and tailored online presence that aligns perfectly with your vision and business goals.

Reinforced Security

Outdated software and vulnerable plugins can expose your website to security risks and potential cyber-attacks. Rebuilding your website ensures that it starts with the latest security measures in place, providing a secure environment for your data and visitors.

How to Make the Decision

Deciding whether to make updates or rebuild your website requires careful consideration of various factors. Here are some essential points to keep in mind:

Think Long-Term

Consider your long-term goals and how your website fits into your broader digital strategy. A rebuild may be more suitable if you anticipate significant growth, new branding, or expanded functionality.

Assess Your Resources

Take a realistic look at the cost to update vs. rebuild your website and assess your budget and available resources for the project. While updating your website is generally more cost-effective, a complete rebuild may be necessary to address fundamental issues the right way.

Evaluate Time Constraints

Assess the urgency of the changes you need to make. Making updates to your existing site could be completed relatively quickly, building upon your existing foundation, while a rebuild requires more time and planning.

Seek Professional Guidance

Consult with a reputable web developer (you’re looking at one!) who can provide expert advice tailored to your unique situation. We’re here to listen, evaluate, and guide you toward the best solution for your website’s future.

Update or Rebuild – Your Website’s Destiny is in Your Hands!

By understanding the signs that indicate the need for change and considering the factors discussed above, you’ll be equipped to make an informed decision for your unique situation. And if you still need help deciding, why not let me take a look?

Get in touch today and we’ll schedule an intro call to discuss your needs. I’ll be able to provide my expert advice on whether an update or rebuild is the best next step for you and your online home.

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Stefani Harris

Hey there! I'm Stefani, your website strategist, designer, developer, caretaker, and proud Google nerd. I believe in taking a mindful, holistic, and collaborative approach to accomplish your website and tech-related goals. Click here to learn more about me and Exhale Design Co. I look forward to meeting you and working with you!

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