Website Redesign vs. Refresh: Which Do You Need?

March 28, 2018
By Pam Berg

Times change. Businesses grow. In order to maintain its status as your strongest sales and marketing investment, your website needs to adapt and expand. But how do you know if you need a website refresh, or a complete website redesign?

Website Redesign vs. Refresh

A website refresh is like trying a new hairstyle, or buying different bedding and pillows for a room in your home. It’s usually simple, quick, and not particularly resource-heavy to execute. A website refresh might be triggered by smaller changes in your company, customer needs, or technology, and isn’t likely urgent.

5 Reasons for a Website Refresh

1. Search engine optimization

A complete web redesign in response to each Google algorithm change would be crazy! But you do want to adapt your website to current SEO best practices in order to continue climbing the rankings. It’s a good idea to stay on top of your content’s optimization with frequent refreshes.

2. New company logo

If your company has updated its logo, you’ll definitely want to apply that site-wide with a refresh. But unless other brand assets are affected, such as colour palette or typeface, there’s no need for a redesign.

3. New additions to your business

The beauty of WordPress websites lies in their user-friendly CMS. It’s easy to add a new service, team member, blog post (or even a whole new blog section to improve organic traffic), or case study to your website using existing page templates, without the need to redesign the entire site. That’s why we use WordPress for all of our web development.

4. Promotional or outdated content

Once again, WordPress to the rescue. You might have put a promotional video and related CTAs prominently on your homepage, and now want to focus on another aspect of business. Or maybe this year is your company’s 20th anniversary — time to celebrate! You can tweak small sections of content without impacting the overall website design.

5. Improve user experience

Simple changes to help your visitors quickly and easily navigate your site might include recommending related content, slight changes to menus, or adding search filters to content. With WordPress, all of these are easy website refreshes.

A website redesign project is quite different from a refresh. Much like designing a website from the ground up, a redesign starts with user research and discovery meetings, builds out content and digital strategies, and works through the complete web design and development process.

5 Reasons for a Website Redesign

1. Stagnant website

One of the most common reasons Forge and Smith is approached for website redesigns is that a site has been stagnant for several years. If your website looks dated, has a frustrating user experience, is slow to load, or otherwise doesn’t feel like a current site, it’s time for a redesign.

2. Full rebrand

Whether it’s a merger, acquisition, or just a facelift for your business, a rebrand will often require a complete website redesign. Rebrands typically address logo, colours, typeface, and other style elements, as well as brand personality and storytelling, media, user experience (UX), and information architecture.

3. Outdated technology

Your website might reflect your current business model and branding, but if the tech is behind the times, you’re in trouble. Google’s mobile-first prioritization means that websites without a fully responsive mobile experience can be penalized. Even changes in UX design, such as mobile navigation advances, can have a huge impact on your site’s performance — and how happy it makes your audience.

4. MarTech integrations

If you need to add any kind of marketing technology to your website, there’s a good chance you need a redesign. Integration of an eCommerce platform, such as WooCommerce, is straightforward for web developers — but adding a shopping experience changes your site’s navigation, callouts, and structure.

5. Digital strategy makeover

Your digital strategy — or incorporating one where there previously was none — is heavily dependent on your site and your content, and big changes can require a redesign. Content marketing, social media, advertising, and SEO strategies are among the moving pieces affected by and affecting your site; major changes can require a new approach to content strategy and design.

Getting ready for a redesign? Here’s a handy website redesign content strategy checklist!

A redesign sounds like a heavy undertaking, and it is. But your business will benefit from improved rankings through quality and performance signals, leaps in growth through increased traffic and conversions, and even brand awareness thanks to improvements to your brand storytelling.

If you get the sense that massive website redesign projects could be avoidable, you’re right! Treat your website like a living member of your team, and the main reason for a redesign — a stagnant site that’s fallen behind on branding and tech — will be no more.

We often partner with clients for long-term engagements, in which we constantly study user behaviour and analytics and work with businesses to make data-driven updates to pages, content, technology, SEO, and other key elements.

If you’re continuously monitoring and analyzing your data, you can make smaller, more frequent, changes and see significantly stronger performance as a result.

Pam Berg

With backgrounds in journalism, computer forensics, and public libraries, it’s no wonder Pam’s obsessed with uncovering the hidden stories in data and developing strategies. Writing long-form optimized articles is her other jam. Her Instagram feed is equal parts horses, waffles, and drag queens.

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