How do you know whether it is better to rebuild or start fresh with a new website?

You have had a website for a while but it hasn’t received much attention recently. Everyone has good intentions when it comes to keeping their website up-to-date and the benefits of doing so can’t be underestimated. However, all the best intentions in the world sometimes get swamped by other things demanding your attention.

If your website has been neglected for a while and you have now managed to find the time to do something about it one of the first questions you are probably asking yourself is, can I update what I already have or do I need to start from scratch with something entirely new?

There are no one word answers to that question so let’s look at what you need to consider.

Short Term

If it has only been 12-24 months since your website has seen any regular attention then you may be able to get away with a refresh by adding some new content and updating other material. A check to ensure that the existing content being displayed is still accurate and relevant should be a regular task anyway. Add some simple changes to the styling to ensure everything looks fresh and new and you might get away with it.

Long Term

On the other hand and this is the focus of this article, if it has been any longer than 2 years since your last major content updates then it will almost always be better to start fresh with a new website. There are more reasons to start with a fresh slate than you may think, so let’s look at the main ones.

Material

Even with a small business it is amazing how quickly content can become dated. Information about the business, the products, services, regions covered, contact details and staff members can all change in a short period of time and seemingly without anyone noticing.

Platform

Conventional coding practices can change a lot in a couple of years. So if your website was built using a content management system, as most are these days, then you have a lot to be concerned about. Not only is it likely that your CMS is seriously out-of-date but it is probably a potential security risk if it hasn’t had any patches applied. With new features being added to most CMS’s regularly you are probably missing out there as well.

Search Engine Updates

All the major search engines are continually refining the way they filter the results to searches in an attempt to provide more relevant, valuable and accurate results. In turn, website owners need to be adjusting the text, keywords and terminology used on their website to ensure they are well represented in the results for their field.

Social Media

Shifts in social media usage can mean that channels targeted previously are no longer as important as they once were. Re-examining your social media strategy, like most other areas, should be a regular task.

Design Methods

While trends in website design change at a more gradual pace it is not unusual to find that what was a cutting edge website design has become somewhat dated. The more cutting edge your design the faster it will date.

New Techniques

New techniques in website design appear constantly and adherence to standards by the major browsers is improving. That means you have the ability to leverage the newer styling methods earlier. At the same time it is important not to jump on the wagon of some passing fad. Make sure that any new techniques are well supported and going to be around for the long haul before using them in your website.

Industry development

Some businesses compete in industries that are constantly changing both in the products they produce and/or supply and in how they engage with their market. An example of this is the car industry where 2 years can see more than one new model release. If your industry changes as fast as that then your website needs to react quickly in both styling and content changes.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether your website has been neglected for a short or long period, any attention it receives will be worth the effort. Just as important is that you introduce a plan for regular checks and updates to ensure you aren’t facing the same issue again in the future. Assign the task to someone to spend an hour or two on your website at least monthly and more frequently if possible. The benefits will show in your bottom line.

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