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Websites, like everything else, eventually get old and outdated. If you haven’t updated your site in a while, chances are it needs modernizing on some level. The question is, how deep does the overhaul need to go? There are two terms you’ll likely hear used often is this respect: refresh and rebuild. But what exactly does each of these mean and how do you know which one is right for your site? Let’s find out.


Refresh: A Digital Makeover


75% of consumers say that they judge a business’s credibility based purely on its design. That is to say, if your site looks bad, you look bad. However, even if your site is hideous, if it still works perfectly well you don’t necessarily have to tear the whole thing down.

A website refresh is essentially a reskinning of your existing site. Practically speaking, it means changing color schemes, adding visual elements, moving around pages or maybe getting rid of some content that isn’t relevant anymore. For the most part, all of these adjustments are purely cosmetic. You aren’t changing anything in regards to the platform on which your site is built or adding significant functionality.  Think about it as putting a fresh coat of paint on your house. 

But what if you need a whole new house?


Rebuild: Tear It Down To Build It Up


Sticking with our house metaphor, a new coat of paint isn’t going to help much if you’ve got mold or a rickety foundation. A website rebuild becomes necessary when you need to fundamentally change how your site works, the platform it’s built on or add functionality that is going to affect everything else. 79% of users will abandon a site if they don’t like how it works. This a huge number and it can’t always be overcome with surface-level changes.

So when, specifically, would you need to start thinking about a full rebuild? The first indicator is if your CMS (Content Management System) is outdated. Upgrading a CMS is more complicated than just clicking an “update” button and, in some cases, you might need to migrate your site to an entirely new platform if you’ve outgrown your current one. This is a big job and needs to be done correctly to ensure your site still works once the process is complete.

Another reason people often rebuild their site is a need to keep up with security and technology trends. Specifically, more and more sites are being designed with mobile-first in mind. 70% of internet traffic comes from mobile devices now. 70 percent! If your current platform doesn’t allow your site to shine on mobile, it is time for a switch.

Finally,  people often find they need an overhaul when they add an eCommerce platform to their site. There is a lot that goes into putting a store on a website, including payment processing, inventory management and making sure it’s secure. Even adding something as seemingly simple as a search service can require developers to get under the hood and make some major changes. All of these examples require code-level work and is not something you should DIY.


Which Do You Need?


The answer to this question comes down to performance. If you don’t love the way your site looks, but it’s functioning exactly as it needs to, then you are most likely looking at a refresh. A refresh is going to be faster and less costly than a full rebuild since it is just updating cosmetic elements. Your main cost here will most likely be for the new look to be designed and implemented.

If your website’s issues go beyond just looking outdated, then it is time for a rebuild. This is a lengthier and more expensive process than a refresh but at the other end of it, you will essentially have a brand new website that looks great and does everything you and your customers need it to.


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