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Websites, like everything else, eventually get old and outdated.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? Is a new website design enough? 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?

Website Refresh: A Digital Makeover


75% of consumers say that they judge a business’s credibility based purely on its design. If your site looks bad, you look bad. However, even if your site is hideous, if everything under the hood works then 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. Our Creative team loves this kind of work because they get the freedom to take something that might be ‘fine’ and turn it into make something look amazing. We like to think about it like putting a fresh coat of paint on your house. 

But what if you need a whole new house?

Website 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 The first indicator is if your CMS (Content Management System) is outdated.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. If you aren’t completely comfortable doing it yourself, we highly recommend getting someone experienced, llike our Digital team to handle the process for you

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 Does Your Website 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 a designer who is creating the new look.

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.

If your site could benefit from a refresh or a rebuild, we’d love to help! Our Tech Blueprint is specifically designed to strategically walk you step-by-step through the questions you need to answer before your next web project. From who the audience is to what objectives the site will need to accomplish, our digital team will make sure that, whether it is a fresh coat of paint or a whole new house, we deliver you the web experience that represents the amazing work your organization does.

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