Rebuilding vs. Updating Your Website & When to Do Each

Brand, Digital

Your marketing team may be grumbling about the challenges of managing your website, or your sales team is pointing to a flawed, outdated website as the reason for their poor quality leads and low closing rate woes. Maybe your customer service department is tired of getting questions unrelated to your core products or services. Perhaps your product team wants to better represent your products on the website and in marketing. They all might feel trapped by your tech stack, your operations, or “How we’ve always done it.”

And as a business owner or CMO, you might feel like “Something’s gotta give.”

It’s easy to come away from conversations addressing those problems with this firm resolution: “It’s time we rebuild our website.”

It’s also likely that these aren’t new conversations, that they’ve been talked about for some time now but it’s never been the “right” time to get started. Often too little budget, time, or in-house expertise is to blame.

Luckily, there’s good news: you may not actually need to rebuild your entire website.

In fact, sometimes what seems like the need for a new website is actually a symptom of a larger marketing problem to address first.

Websites are kind of like houses. Any homeowner (or avid HGTV-watcher) with a passion for DIY knows that sometimes the vision requires a complete overhaul of the structure and layout, while other times a renovation to restyle, add on, or refurnish can do the trick.

The same applies to your website, but it can be difficult to know what you really need. As a general rule of thumb, here are a few shortcuts to help point you in the right direction:

 

Consider a full website rebuild if:

Your company is planning to rebrand.

While swapping out a logo or replacing the color palette of your brand may be somewhat easily changed on your website, a thorough rebrand will likely require building a new website from the ground up. You’ll need to adjust your messaging to align with your company’s purpose and voice, create consistency in design across other marketing channels, and plan a smooth rollout of your brand so that all of the pieces hit the market in an impactful way. Need some help knowing where to start with your rebrand? Check out A Step-by-Step Guide to the Rebrand Process.

Your products or services have changed.

Small changes like adding new products or changing prices may not require a full website overhaul. However, significant changes to your product or service offering that alter how you do business – such as entering a new product category or drastically changing your operations – could warrant building a new website.

Your audiences or personas have changed.

Shifting your messaging or making changes to your products or services may also impact who your website is trying to reach and what you are trying to get them to do. Said simply, if you’ve made significant changes to your business that impact the business and marketing goals that your website influences, you’re more likely to need a fully redone website.

Your website is extremely difficult to manage.

Website technology becomes brittle if not maintained and updated over time, and can make it hard to manage content long-term. If your marketing managers are spending too much time jumping through hoops or working with developers to make simple edits to your website, or if your website isn’t integrated well with other business systems, it may be worthwhile to invest in a website that will create efficiencies in both your business and marketing operations.

 

Consider a website renovation if:

Your users are having a hard time navigating the website.

Heatmapping tools are a marketer’s best friend when it comes to understanding where website users get frustrated and leave the site. If you’re seeing dropoffs in conversion rate, you may need your marketing team or consultancy partner to review the data and run A/B testing to determine a clear optimization strategy.

Your users can’t find the information they’re looking for.

If your sales team or customer service team is answering the same questions time and time again, there’s a good chance that your website is either not speaking to the right audience or isn’t aligned with the value or information they need. In most cases, improving the content on your existing website can satisfy those needs. In more extreme cases where a full website navigation and restructure are needed, a new website will be the path to least resistance.

Your competitors outperform you in search rankings.

As a business owner or CMO, being familiar with the ways your competitors position themselves, where they invest their marketing dollars, and their impact on your market share is a must. If you discover that they’re showing up higher than you for key industry terms, it’s likely that your website’s SEO needs improvement. Generating new content or incorporating keywords into existing content is one simple tactic to ranking higher, and for high-value keywords, considering a paid media campaign may combat low rankings or dwindling market share.

Regardless of which way you lean, be sure to consider the long-term investment. If it will cost more to update your existing website than it would cost to rebuild it – and if there aren’t any urgent external factors driving the timeline – a rebuild might be the smarter choice.

As with all business and marketing decisions, understanding the broad best practices and applying them to the nuances of your business is the only way to know for sure that you’re making the right investment. What works well for one business may not be as productive for another. 

Good luck!

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