Is it Time to Refresh or Redesign Your Website?

Written by Brian Larson on July 20, 2017


Websites don’t last forever, but conscientious web design and development can ensure that your site will stay up to date with regular changes and without major hassle. If it’s been 3-5 years since you last updated your website design, there’s a good chance you’re due for some upgrades.

Much like renovating your kitchen at home, there are two general routes you can take to update your website. If you’re happy with all the functionality of your kitchen, but those speckle-painted cabinets no longer look as modern as they did when you bought the house, a fresh coat of paint goes a long way. So it goes with web design—a web refresh could be as simple as changing the colors or adding your newest logo to the website. Sometimes small changes can have a major impact.

On the other hand, if your kitchen appliances are shoddy and the plumbing no longer works, it might be time for a remodel. Much like plumbing or electrical wiring, the backend of your site is a major factor to consider when deciding whether to refresh or redesign your site. Your Content Management System (CMS) is perhaps the most important factor to consider. Although a more major undertaking, a complete site redesign can allow for the backend (content and other data) to be structured in such a way that future redesigns and refreshes are cost effective. It will also give you maximum freedom to make the front-end of the site look and feel exactly how you want it to.

A major indicator that your site needs updating is whether or not it’s responsive. How can you tell if a website is responsive? If you’re on a desktop computer, grab a corner of this website’s window. The banners, images, and text position all scale to fit any screen size or window size. If the content on your site is stationary while you adjust the window size, it is not responsive. Screen size has increased over time, so older websites can sometimes appear tiny on new displays. Responsive sites function well on all screen sizes across the vast majority of devices. Responsive sites also get a boost from Google in organic search ranking—conversely, non-responsive sites are penalized in organic ranking.

On mobile, responsive website content automatically adjusts to fit the screen. If you find yourself pinching and zooming on a website, it hasn’t been designed to properly scale to the smaller mobile screen size. Making sure that your site supports mobile is more important than ever—current as of June 2017, mobile owns the majority of global market share at 53%, with desktop following at 42%, and tablet trailing with 5%. If your site’s domain name still has a separate mobile version and looks like, m.domain.com, your site should be redesigned so that your regular domain is coded to scale to all screen sizes, mobile or desktop, without needing separate versions of the site.

Here is a quick snapshot of the pros and cons of either a refresh or redesign.

Advantages of Refresh:

  • You can fully accomplish small or large updates with a relatively modest budget.
  • You can tweak and refine the look of your site without worrying about major changes.

Disadvantages:

  • Developers and designers don’t always know what the inner workings of a site are going to be until they dig in. They may end up working with code that can be problematic to adjust or needs to be refactored altogether.
  • If your Content Management System has major issues, is not secure or the backend of the site is hard to use, it’s unlikely a refresh is going to solve these problems.
  • If your site needs a full rebuild in the foreseeable future, the budget and creative effort of a refresh might be better spent on a redesign.

Advantages of Redesign:

  • Building from the ground up will give you full control over all aspects of the site, allowing you to create the ideal user experience.
  • New websites can be built with future refreshes and redesigns in mind.
  • Modern Content Management Systems (CMS) implemented correctly have a smooth learning curve and make backend management much easier.

Disadvantages:

  • Full redesigns require more time than a refresh.
  • Implementing a redesigned and newly built site on a new CMS requires some learning for content editors.

If you’re interested in updating your site, drop us a line . We can discuss these two routes and talk about how to revamp your site so it looks great and best fits your needs.