Is it better to redesign (“remodel”) your website or start with a fresh, clean slate?

When it comes to your online home (a.k.a. your website), the majority of the time it’s better to start with a clean slate rather than trying to work with older – usually very outdated – technology. For your brick-and-mortar home or business, however, remodeling is much more common and do-able (usually) than needing to start from scratch.

When you purchase the home you actually live in, there are times you’ll want to add in updates and upgrades to make things work properly and be more comfortable. It’s an investment worth making, and it’s also an asset that you can resell to someone else later on. The upgrades and location are all part of its value.

When it's time for a new website, is it better to start from scratch or redesign? | The EssentialWebsite.com

A “real life” example

When it's time for a new website, is it better to start from scratch or redesign? | The EssentialWebsite.comOur Paris apartment was nicknamed the “rubble” apartment when we were on the House Hunter’s International show. Before it became “rubble,” which was the stage it was in when it was filmed, it was pretty disgusting (to put it nicely). There was a lot of junk, trash, wiring from the ’50s, and more.

Paris is a finite area – you can’t go up, down, or out, and building new really isn’t an option. Most people who dream of moving there want one of the older apartments. You actually want to keep the old worm-holed beams and the quirks that provide that Parisian charm. You are also expecting that the dream will come with its fair share of hard work (and a drain on your wallet) to make it happen. You’ll probably replace the plumbing, possibly the flooring, create ways to maximize space, among many, many other things. Buying in a 16th-century building is desired because, in Paris, older is (usually) better. You can live with the creaks and occasional plumbing issues. It’s a choice people make to live in history and the romance of the locale.

When it's time for a new website, is it better to start from scratch or redesign? | The EssentialWebsite.com

The result!

That’s totally opposite of what you want to do with your website (your “digital home”). With new technology and design trends, more people accessing websites from mobile devices, and even more things constantly changing and evolving, the calling card/face of your business must keep up. Your website is an investment in your business. Historical charm and quirks are desired in physical homes. Broken bits, unattractive pages, and nonfunctional usage are unacceptable for a website. Older tech and poor functionality lose sales. Period. An investment in your business with a functional, sales-increasing website is a no-brainer.

Building New vs. Remodeling

I read something yesterday in a study I’m currently in that made me think of this same topic as it applies to websites and homes. It talked about a city wall that was destroyed by war. The line that stuck with me was “The difference between building and rebuilding is the rubble.”.

Building starts with a clean slate and means new, freshly-scented materials. Rebuilding (a.k.a a remodel/redesign) means maneuvering through piles of brick, metal, junk, and possibly someone else’s gross trash waaaay before you get around to hanging that stunning chandelier.

It’s easy to get excited when you pick out granite countertops, paint samples, and cabinets. Not so much when you think about moldy carpet, holes in the drywall, broken pipes, hauling stuff away, and wiring that could fry your new computer. That’s a lot to deal with, and it will get costly.

Building new vs. remodeling (redesigning) your website works the same way.

Little updates are easy to get excited about like when you get new headshots and update your lead magnet – you want to “get it out there” now and wait for the clients to start rolling in. You think “I can’t afford a whole new website” and the older tech on your website will “work for now.”

But…do your clients feel the same way?

They are the ones who get annoyed and turned off when they go to your website from their phones. They are the ones who can’t find a darn thing and think everything is so confusing on your website. Its things like this that turn people away.

New visitors don’t think, “Oh, what a cute headshot, she must really be great to work with.” Instead, they think “This is so frustrating.” [*close browser window, Google someone else*]. Don’t even get me started on that form that they tried to contact you with but you never knew it because the form plugin you use quit working or maybe it is working, but the submissions are getting lost in cyberspace!

When you need a new website, starting with a clean slate is smarter than putting lipstick on a pig. Click To Tweet

When you build your website with a fresh slate, you can use the latest technology for the bones (think Content Management System like WordPress, plugins, etc.) and you can be sure things are current, secure, and work properly. It will work perfectly on mobile devices and when people visit, everything is clean and easy to read, use, and find.

Trying to remodel or redesign a new mobile-responsive, functional website from the junk pile of an old “it’ll work for now” website is a huge waste of time and money. I think this is where people start to compare websites (online homes) to physical homes. A lot of the time (unless you’re in Paris) making upgrades or updates to your brick-and-mortar home is less expensive than building from scratch. That’s usually not the case with your website (online home).

Trying to “redesign” an old website (unless the updates are very minor, like adding a photo or changing some text) isn’t smart. Here are a few of the reasons why:

  • Older tech breaks easily (things stop working, your website crashes, etc.) and regularly.
  • Older tech is a hacker’s playground. Updates pushed out by themes, plugins, that bank app on your phone, etc. are constantly updating for a reason. One of these is to make things more secure.
  • Older themes and software used will eventually stop being supported.
  • Online tech changes at the speed of light, and there may not be anyone around who knows how to “use” that old tech or make repairs to it any longer.
  • Older themes aren’t able to accomplish all of the fancy new features and current design trends you see now and drool over. Would you go back to that old flip phone after your smartphone? That’s what using old tech is like – you can’t do everything you need to do and it doesn’t work well in the world now.
  • The smallest of things can get quite time-consuming for your web developer to do or try to make happen (if even possible).
When it comes to websites, starting fresh is smart.

Trying to redesign a website with older tech (bones) could mean a heart attack-inducing invoice. Then, at the end of the day, it still doesn’t work right or do what you wanted it to do. And even worse… it’s still losing sales.

Building a new website using the latest technology is quicker to complete and less expensive than the scenarios above. The investment is a smart business move, and when it comes to your business, can you afford not to make smart moves?

When it’s time for a new website we make the entire process a breeze by walking you through every step. See the essentials each website includes and check out the whole process from prep to launch right here.
If you’re ready to roll, contact us and let’s chat about your dream website!

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About Janet

Hi there! I’m Janet Hoover, designer, code techie, dog lover and co-founder of The Essential Website. Our big thing is helping people bring their online visions to life more beautifully, polished and smarter! We create custom-crafted, hand-coded WordPress websites for biz-builders, action-takers and dreamers who are ready to GROW and shine online! We’re here to help you stop dreaming and start doing with the perfect online solution for your one-of-a-kind biz.

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