written by
Zach Aufort

Keep It or Scrap It? Here's When You Should Update a Website and When You Should Build a New One

Web Design 4 min read

Repair or replace? It's the age-old question. Should you keep your '92 Saturn limping along with duct tape and happy thoughts or should you buy a new car? Should you hop from job to job in an industry you hate or go back to school? It can be hard to know when something still has value, and when it should be retired. The same is true when you update a website.

This article will help you decide whether you should update your existing website, or build a new one from the ground up. There's a fair bit at stake, so it's worth taking stock of all the improvements your site requires. Oftentimes, building something new is more cost-effective than trying to duct tape your way to modern design.

You Can Update a Website With Good Bones

Adding a fresh coat of paint, changing out the rug, and buying some new furniture can revitalize the look of a room. But if that room is in a house that's falling down around you, a couple of throw pillows probably won't do the trick. You can't fix a broken window with new curtains.

Check your analytics. If your site delivers zippy page loads, gets a low bounce rate, does well in search rankings, and generally serves your purposes, there's no need to make dramatic changes unless you want to. You can simply refresh your site with revised copy, updated images, subtle design changes, and a new color palette.

You may only need to fix a few dead links, update your server software, and firm up your SEO strategies to get your site humming again.

On the other hand, if your site is built on an obsolete technology like Flash, uses a CMS that's inappropriate for your needs, delivers badly sluggish performance, or doesn't feature responsive design and isn't mobile-friendly, then repairing it isn't an option. It's putting lipstick on a pig.

Fundamental problems with the design of your site can be fixed much more effectively by starting over, using state-of-the-art web technologies and modern design principles.

Aesthetics Matter...A Lot

When you update a website, the design is just as important as the technology under the hood. Even if your site has decent underpinnings, if your layout feels like it was last updated during the Clinton administration, a simple refresh may not be enough to impress potential customers.

If your site is older than five years, there's a good chance it's looking a bit tired. If it's older than that, and you've been keeping it afloat technologically without considering its aesthetics, you probably have customers snickering behind your back.

In the same way that you shouldn't go out in public today wearing Hammer pants, a jumpsuit, or a sweater vest, your site will need a fairly substantial overhaul if it sports large walls of text, images that are too small for modern screen resolutions, a static, lifeless design, or shiny, glassy, or glowing buttons of any kind.

Compare Yourself to Your Competitor's Sites

This is a great barometer for whether it's time to scrap your old design and start fresh. These are the sites your customers are going to when they're not sticking around on yours.

Take a hard look at the state of design in your industry. If you would be proud to stand your site among the cream of your competitors, then you're doing something right. But if your design feels clunky, antiquated, hard to navigate, or irrelevant by comparison, you've found your motivation to invest in an overhauled site.

When You Update a Website Properly, Your Customers Will Thank You

The fact is, modern consumers are web savvy. They might not be able to elucidate exactly why a site doesn't work for them, but they know poor and outmoded web styling when they see it. If you update a website and don't go far enough, they may avoid it.

As Entrepreneur magazine points out, your customers will tell you what they want from your site. You'll hear they expect quick access to the information they're looking for. They don't want to have to read a novel or dig through a maze of pages to find it. They're looking for a fast, attractive, responsive design that feels entirely appropriate for the products or services they're searching for. They'll penalize you if they don't get it.

If you sense that you're a long way off from delivering this experience, we can help. Let us sit down with you and discuss where your website needs work. We can update a website to modern standards, and let you know whether we think that will require a few touch-ups and fixes or a total reimagining of your design. We're happy to pursue whichever strategy you prefer.

Let the professionals here at Puget Tech deliver you the results you need from the site you want.

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