If your site is not delivering on your current needs or if the experience doesn’t reflect your brand, you likely have thought about a new website. Often, the big question is whether it’s possible to simply update your current site or if it’s time for a new site. Essentially this is a decision for a longer term investment and more dramatic improvements or to continue a little longer with a band-aid approach that may be good enough for now.
The ultimate choice about whether or not to rebuild will depend on many factors, but here are five questions to consider:
1. Is the Site Delivering Results?
A website is designed to accomplish business objectives — for example, to increase brand awareness, generate leads, or sell products and services. If website visitors are not taking the desired actions to the degree needed, it could be due to a lack of clear calls to action, confusing navigation, or poor design. Some changes may be easy fixes to an existing site. More substantial redesign that helps visitors better connect, find what they need, and take actions such as filling out a form or purchasing a product may might be easier by starting new.
Are site visitors able to quickly find what they need from the navigation and Home page? Your site may benefit from a fresh look at content organization founded on what key audiences understand about the organization and what they are looking to learn and do. Improvements can be made on a current site with strong text linking, use of buttons and creation of additional pages. But more substantial improvements that alter how content is organized throughout will be easier and better to start from scratch.
Effective page design is created from strong content and headlines that allow visitors to skim and quickly understand where to read further for more information. Website visitors are in different stages of the buying process, and good design takes that into account throughout the site experience. Does the site encourage visitors to stay? Are pages designed to help move visitors to related information throughout the site?
Are visitors able to skim headlines and get the gist of content without the “work” of reading body copy? For example, a headline such as, “WeProsper Coalition Works to Eliminate Predatory Lending Practices” is a better alternative than “What We Do” or “About the Coalition.” While headlines can be easily changed on an existing site, if headlines are lacking, it likely means there is room for improvement in adding content sections or conversely, tightening up copy heavy page designs.
As companies grow, web content generally becomes more complex. Does the site have the functionality needed for visitors to easily digest information? A B2B services company may want to add a section on the site that showcases work. A nonprofit may desire a more robust experience for online donations or an events calendar that allows visitors to easily find, sort, and register online. Growing firms may want easier backend functionality that allows staff to easily make content updates. Ecommerce sites may find that the original design is now too simple for a growing product line.
2. Does the Site Experience Reflect Your Brand?
Does your site effectively reflect the best of the organization, its purpose and strengths? Does it immediately convey why what you do is relevant to your key audiences? Is the experience compelling and memorable with a look and feel that speaks to audiences and captures the vibe of the company?
A strategically branded website will create an accurate perception of the company. A company that is the same today as it was yesterday can be perceived differently simply through the power of words, imagery, and design. For example, a brand refresh can dramatically change how visitors perceive the size and stature of a company. It can engender greater confidence and trust that helps moves visitors to take actions such as providing contact information or moving all the way through to purchase. If your website doesn’t accurately reflect the best of your brand, it will be best to start over with a new look and feel.
3. Does the Platform Fit Your Current Needs?
Many small businesses begin with a basic website built from a web builder on a proprietary hosting service such as Squarespace, WIX, Weebly, or GoDaddy. Or a site may be developed on an industry specific web builder platform such as Therapysites for therapists. These are excellent solutions for creating quick, inexpensive sites with little upfront cost. The upside simplicity however is also their downside. As companies grow, a new site will inevitably be needed due to needs for greater functionality, data space, and customized design that is less cookie cutter. Verve Marketing Group often helps companies at this stage who want to move to a new level and need a redesign that will support expanded growth and/or new product or service needs.
4. Do You Need More Flexibility and Control?
Over the last 10-15 years, agencies have moved to design and development almost exclusively in WordPress for informational and promotional sites. This is primarily due to the priority clients place on being able to easily add/edit/delete content — combined with the amazing functionality that can be accomplished in a custom WordPress site. A decade ago, clients would ask for sites in Joomla or Drupal if they had used those platforms before, but those platforms have definitely taken a back seat due to their difficulty in updating.
Besides ease of use, WordPress is particularly well-suited for organizing and filtering content. Blog article content for example is foundational for search engine optimization. Functionality in WordPress goes far beyond blogging however. Verve has created WordPress sites that incorporate ecommerce, the ability to accept online tuition payments and membership applications, onsite event registrations, and highly specific and customized needs. For example, a custom WordPress site we developed for a book publisher was programmed to automatically generate new product pages from the book industry data feed that goes to online retailers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The site also automatically deleted product pages when books went out of print helping to automate continual product releases and changes in the industry.
5. Is It Technically Out of Date?
This is the most obvious issue that leads organizations to know it’s time for a new website. Web technology is ever-evolving. As an extreme example, when Verve Marketing Group started in 2008, websites were primarily built in Flash with cool animation. An inking of Flash’s future demise began with the release of the first iPhone in 2007 which did not include the ability to view Flash. When the iPad released in 2010 with a strong viewpoint to never include Flash, it was just a matter of time as the iPad, a tablet, was viewed for use as a replacement for laptop. Flash’s complete demise came December 31, 2020 with Adobe no longer supporting and subsequently blocking Flash content from running in Flash Player beginning January 12, 2020. Many buried their head in the sand on the way to Flash’s demise. Others were simply ignorant of the impending end. We were happy to create a new site for a client last year whose Flash site essentially stopped functioning.
Another obvious, way-past-time-to-do-a-new-site situation is an old site that is not responsive. A responsive site is designed to look good and work well on all sized devices — phone, tablet, and laptop/desktop all using the same url. Verve Marketing Group started designing responsive websites in 2012 in the early years after Google announced that it would begin to take responsiveness into consideration for search rankings. This was due to its commitment to web accessibility and the then growing use of mobile phones. Now, a decade later in 2022, it is no longer enough to be responsive. Google began ranking sites with mobile-first indexing several years ago. Sites built after July 1, 2019 used mobile-first indexing by default and the entire web started to be switched over in September 2020. Bottom line, if your site is not designed first and foremost for mobile viewing, it will be impossible to rank well.
Make the Most of Your Most Important Marketing Asset
All marketing is leveraged by an effective website. If your website isn’t mobile-first, has outdated or weak branding, doesn’t allow the flexibility you need, or most important, it doesn’t accomplish its purpose — these are indications it may be time for a new site. We hope these questions are helpful as you seek to maximize the effectiveness of your website. Contact us to start a conversation on any website needs. Whether a complete website redo or ongoing technical and content maintenance, we’d like to help.