Redesign or Rebuild: How to decide if your website needs a new look or a new CMS

You’ll often hear businesses refer to the fact that they’ve had a “website redesign”. It’s a term that we and other website development agencies will use to refer to a website design and development project but it sometimes doesn’t fully describe what the project might have involved.

With website design trends changing constantly, many organisations might feel that refreshing the way that their website looks is enough. In fact, we’ve looked at a number of tell-tale signs that it’s time to redesign your website.

However, improving the user experience for both visitors and the staff who manage the back-end of the website might mean rebuilding the code of the site or even building it on a new content management system (CMS).

Essentially, it will come down to two choices; redesigning or rebuilding your website.

Not sure which is right for you? Here are a few pointers that might help.

What does a website redesign involve?

It will obviously differ from project to project but redesigning a website will often involve updating the look and feel of a site to meet current trends and better match a company’s brand identity.

One of the biggest misconceptions when it comes to the term “website redesign” is that it’s a relatively straightforward process.

While updating colours and brand elements can certainly be achieved quite easily, as soon as you start to alter the structure of website pages it will require some changes to the underlying code.

The website redesign process

The method of redesigning a website should involve multiple stages, starting with an exploration of how people currently use the site and which elements of user experience need to improve.

This will feed into the design stages of the project and result in a fresh redesign of the internal pages.

It’s important to remember that all of this will be based on the existing platform that the site was originally designed on.

A website redesign, while potentially changing the way that the site looks, won’t alter the content management system in the back-end or the platform that it was built on.

This is one of the fundamental differences between a website redesign and a website rebuild.

How does a website redesign differ from a rebuild?

While some companies might initially think that they need a website redesign, once their business goals have been established it might be the case that a simple visual update won’t be enough.

In some cases, this will mean that the platform which the website was built on needs to be replaced. This could be for a number of reasons:

A better mobile experience

In 2018, 52.2% of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones. (Source: Statista)

A website that doesn’t display properly on devices like tablets and smartphones is one of the common web design mistakes that could be harming your site.

While a mobile-friendly front-end experience is vital, it’s just as important for the admin users of a website to be able to access its CMS from mobile devices.

Many organisations will implement a website rebuild so that they can create a new platform that’s based on a responsive website design.

This means that both the front and back-end of the site will display perfectly on any device.

New functionality

Businesses evolve and so do the services they offer.

If your organisation’s website doesn’t reflect what you can offer your customers, it’s likely that it will need to offer extra functionality.

That might mean e-commerce, an online booking system, a better search facility or email marketing and data collection.

All of these will require changes to the site’s code, which means it’s often easier to rewrite it on a new platform.

Integrating with other platforms

As well as extra functionality on the website, as companies grow they can often accrue other software platforms that are used by various elements of the business.

Since it’s unlikely that these third-party systems integrate with an older website, a website rebuild gives you the opportunity to create a platform that integrates with these systems.

Redesign or Rebuild? What’s the best approach?

As you’d expect, there’s no easy answer to this.

Once the redesign process begins, it will often become obvious (for any of the reasons stated above) that a rebuild is actually required.

One solution could be an iterative process.

In the case of Royal Voluntary Service’s website redesign, we were tasked with updating the UX and volunteer journey for specific sections of the website.

Alternatively, you could reskin an existing website platform with a new UX design in preparation for a separate website rebuild further down the line.

Whatever approach you choose, exploring the needs of your users will show whether a website redesign or rebuild offers them the best online experience and you the most cost-effective solution.

If you want to learn how we can help you do just that, get in touch today.

Categories: Website Design & Development

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