Your website – Rebuild or Update?

Gone are the days when every time a company wants to make major changes to their website that they need only to consider a complete rebuild. Whilst this has been the mentality of the past, as content management systems have become more advanced there are usually a lot of options to consider before the cost of a complete redevelopment must be worn.

If your website is due for a refresh and currently has a sound technical base, here are a few options to consider before you revert to rebuilding the website from scratch:

1. Content and Structural Updates
You should never stop updating the content on your website as regardless of your industry or audience, your website won’t attract repeat visitors unless the content is fresh, up to date and relevant. However from time to time you will also want to do more than update the content and will be interested in changing the structure or information architecture of the website.

Many content management systems will allow you to quite easily add new pages to your site as well as change your primary and secondary navigation items, wording and order. Whilst you need to put some thought (and in some cases research) into these changes, they can assist you in optimising your website or facilitating your growing businesses’ needs.

Of course being able to change your navigation items may be dependent on how your navigation is designed and whether there is room in the design to expand the number of items in your navigation if needed. However even if there are some spacing issues here, together with the design refresh option below, changes can still be achieved relatively simply.

2. Design Refresh– Re-skin
Many content management systems will allow you to update the design of your website whilst maintaining the content and structure that is already in place. Design updates can range between modifying existing design elements such as promotional boxes, buttons, background colours or style sheet elements through to design + page layout changes which may require a full re-skin.

There are several benefits in making design changes in this way. Firstly your content and structure is maintained meaning that the update process can be much quicker and less painful than starting from scratch (although these items may still need to be reviewed and modified to make sure they are still logical). In addition to this subtle design changes can be made over time without requiring a major re-launch of your website or causing any user issues or confusion.

3. Add Functionality
Another way to refresh your website may be to include additional functionality on the site. You may have decided to add a blog and some user tools or through research you may have recognised a need to start selling products online. Many content management systems are built in a module fashion meaning that it is relatively easy to add additional modules or pieces of functionality to the existing system. This building-block approach means that you can stagger your functionality to fit in with your budget requirements and grow your functionality as new opportunities are identified. In addition to this, many content management systems have updates to the system available over time, meaning that you can rest assured that you are operating on the latest version of the technology.

Updating your website in the ways detailed below will generally prove to be a much more cost effective and generally more efficient way of making major changes to your website to keep it fresh and relevant for your audience. For this reason it is a good idea to maintain a good relationship with your web development company and stay abreast of the options which they can offer you. It is also recommended that once your website is built, that it is revisited every 12 months as often making small changes over time can keep you further ahead of your competitors rather than waiting until an out of date website is impacting on your business performance.

Be Guided by Strategy and Research
If you feel your website is getting a bit tired but you’re not sure what changes to make, then I would recommend going through a website strategy process before any decisions are made. A website strategy will review your current website as well as industry competitors, technology advances, website usage and what your target audience want. Once you have all this information you (or your strategy consultant) will be able to map out the future view of your website and what changes are needed in order to achieve that state.

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