Website Redesign Versus Website Update – How to Determine What You Need

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If your online presence is getting stale and dated you have two basic options. Here is what you need to know to decide which is best for you.

Website Redesign Versus Website Update

These days we get a lot of phone calls and emails that start something like this: “I need a new website. Please help!” The reasons are understandable; both human visitors and Google have certain expectations when it comes to websites. The trick is to decide between a website redesign versus website update for your business website.

Your business website is a key element of your overall digital marketing strategy. Therefore it is really important you keep it both up-to-date and updated. But that doesn’t mean you have to fresh every time! Yes, you do need to start with a mobile-first website at some point. Maybe that time is now. If you already have a functional website it comes down to website redesign versus website update.

Redesigning a website is a major undertaking, and there are website redesign considerations you need to keep in mind before you decide. Yes, there are times when building a completely new website makes sense, especially if you have a long to-do or wish list. Other websites may cover all the basics already. In that case, you can give your website a boost with a simple website update.

“In a crowded market, having a website that simply serves as a brochure is no longer competitive.” — Small Business Marketing Trends Report

When we start evaluating the need of a website redesign versus website update we follow five basic steps. To help you decide which approach works best for your situation and requirements we decided to publish them here. If you’ve got the basics then maybe you just need a refresh or update of certain areas. But if you are falling short on all five it is time for a shiny new website!

Website Redesign Versus Website Update – 5 Questions You Must Answer!

1) Do You Have a Mobile-First Site?

In 2019 having a mobile-first business website is essential. No matter what your business, most of your online visitors will come from a mobile device. If your site does not offer an ideal user experience they will go elsewhere. A mobile-first site meets the following criteria:

  • Renders appropriately on different screen sizes by resizing and repositioning design elements on smaller screens
  • Fast page load speed across all devices
  • Has size-appropriate links and buttons that are easy to click on small screens
  • Simple design without distracting elements and generous use of white space
  • Utilizes mobile navigation to help users find different pages, products, and services
  • Provides bite-sized chunks of content that are easy to scan on mobile devices
  • Serves scaled and optimized adaptive images on mobile devices
  • Avoids interstitial popups (which are banned by Google anyway!)
  • Limits the use of memory and resource intensive functionality on mobile devices

If you look at mobile-first websites you will notice certain similarities in design and functionality. Most sites will feature the “Hamburger Menu” at the top, contact info, and socials in the footer, and screen size appropriate content in between. Content will be easy to scan on smaller screens, and the entire experience is pleasant and engaging.

These are the things that the average mobile user expects from you. If you already have all or most of the above requirements covered you most likely will only need to update certain elements of your website. But if you fall short on more than one or two of the above you should really consider a website redesign versus website update.

2) Do You Have Outdated or Obsolete Design Elements or Content?

The next step in deciding between a website redesign versus website update is to look at the design and content of your website. Let’s start with some basic design elements.

Sometimes, certain parts of websites are just flat-out obsolete. The old table-based websites that sit on the top left corner of your browser are one extreme example! But there are many other outdated design elements that are definitely working against you.

Outdated Design Elements

  • Any Flash-based elements
  • Splash or landing screens
  • Auto-play audio or soundtracks
  • Using too many colors and fonts
  • Too many or inconsistent design elements
  • Using too many stock images or clip art
  • Excessive popups on desktops and laptops (Google forbids them on mobile devices!)
  • Inconsistent navigation menus
  • Too-small or low-quality images

While design elements are an important part of having an engaging website don’t forget about the content. Outdated content will make your business seem outdated as well; it is as simple as that! As you consider website redesign versus website update be sure to keep your content in mind!

“59% of consumers globally would rather engage with content that’s beautifully designed as opposed to simply designed —even when short on time.” — Adobe

Outdated Content to Remove or Update

  • Contact info, including location, hours, phone numbers and contact email
  • Business info, including your team, updates, stories to share
  • Service info, including new or seasonal offerings, services that you no longer offer, etc.
  • Product info, including new products, out-of-stock or no longer available products, etc.
  • Images and videos that are no longer relevant
  • Reviews, testimonials, and case studies, including online reviews, citations, and endorsements
  • Blog posts, including updating evergreen content and deleting outdated and/or seasonal posts
  • Content that is overly long or does not include lists and/or images
  • Broken links, including updating existing links as needed, and removing all broken links
  • Social media, including links to your social profiles AND the ability to share your content on social networks

The design and content of your existing website play an important part of your website redesign versus website update considerations. Most often a simple website content update meets mobile consumer expectations. You may want to consider adding new fresh content as part of a web design update. But if you fall short on most the above considerations it is time for a new website!

3) Search Engine Optimization

Ever since the Google Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Update of April, 2015 your website must pass the mobile-friendly test to rank on search engines. But that is only the beginning. Your website design and content must comply with a number of Google guidelines for best search results. Therefore SEO has to play an important part in your website redesign versus website update considerations.

Put bluntly, if you do not have a mobile-friendly website your only option is a website redesign. Google prohibits having a separate mobile website, so that option is out. And there are other reasons to consider a website redesign versus website update simply for SEO benefits.

SEO Considerations

  • Search engines prefer websites coded to the latest standards instead of having to crawl through endless bloated code.
  • Outdated websites usually do not allow adding the latest SEO strategies, such as Microdata Markup according to
  • Websites based on modern Content Management Systems (CMS) make it easier to add Metadata such as page and image descriptions.
  • Mobile-first websites tend to load faster, which is a search-ranking signal

Including key SEO considerations in determining your website redesign versus website update only makes sense. A loss in search ranking is usually one-way business owners find out their website is no longer effective. And in the ever more competitive field of online marketing, your business needs to follow the latest SEO trends.

4) How are Visitors Navigating Your Website?

Part of the consideration between website redesign versus website update has to deal with user behavior and user expectations. In order to do that you need to understand how visitors are navigating your website. In other words, are they finding what they expect to find? And how can you find out?

We recommend services like Hotjar as a good way to get information on what your current visitors are doing. This type of service can give you a “heat map” of where your customers click, giving you insight into what is resonating with your audience, and the path they are taking, or searching for. You don’t want to remove or ignore section that’s popular enough to bring people in.

You can also gather valuable insights through your Google Analytics dashboard. Remember that these services must be installed and running for at least 30 days before they can gather the data you need. Therefore you need to start with this type of analytics as soon as you can so that you can gain insights about what sort of updates will benefit your website.

5) What Devices Is Your Target Audience Using?

Most likely you are not considering a website redesign versus website update simply for the hell of it. You are doing this because you need a business website that works for your business, not against it. And that means a key consideration here are the expectations of your intended target audience. After all, you are updating or redesigning your website for them, not you!

The first step is to find how visitors are accessing your site. That depends on a lot of factors, including age, location, intent, and personal preferences. Once you know if your visitors are surfing on their iPad or researching at the office you must find out what they do once they are on your site.

“Nearly 8 in 10 of consumers would stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device.” — Adobe

All of the data you’ll need for this is found in Google Analytics, Hotjar, and similar applications and services. Here are some more tips for conducting user experience research. The most important thing to consider is how many people are using desktops or laptops and how many are using smartphones and other mobile devices.

But devices alone aren’t the story. They are simply a tool for viewing your website. A better approach is to decide which devices drive the most revenue to your site. For example, if desktop visitors are 30% of your traffic but 80% of your business revenue you need to focus on that target demographic.

On the other hand, if your business targets mainly Millenials you obviously need to offer an awesome mobile experience. We always recommend you look at these things holistically and figure out the characteristics of your most valuable demographics.

What Will It Be: Website Redesign Versus Website Update?

There you have it, five simple questions to help decide on a website redesign versus website update. Once you answered them you can focus on tweaking your site to emphasize what’s been helping it succeed and lower (or outright cut) anything that’s been dragging it down.

As you can see there is a big difference between a website redesign versus website update. A website redesign is a complex undertaking that you should only consider if your current website has significant shortcomings. If your business website has not had a refresh in three or more years you are most likely due for a redesign.

Website updates, however, are far less complex. We actually recommend updating your website at least once a week with some fresh content as part of an ongoing content marketing strategy. You can schedule more extensive updates, such as replacing images in galleries and slide shows about two to four times a year.

The Difference Between a Website Redesign Versus Website Update

Based on many years of professional experience we generally follow these guidelines:

Website Update

Plan on a website update as part of regular website maintenance at least two to four times a year depending on your business or service. Consider a website update like spring cleaning for your website. Open the windows for fresh air, sweep out the cobwebs, and put some fresh flowers on the table.

Typical website updates:

  • Updating relevant content, including images and video
  • Verify all contact info and social are current
  • Adding more content or pages
  • Making minor design tweaks, such as updating the color of your CTA
  • Adding or removing a special offer or promo
  • Adding and updating product and image galleries
  • Updating SEO keywords and phrases to match search trends
  • Editing or updating SEO Meta descriptions and image Alt tags

Website updates usually take a few days, and the business owner can do much of this with minimal help from a web designer. This makes a simple update much more cost and time-effective than a complete website redesign.

Website Redesign

On the other hand, if your current website is not mobile-friendly or does not meet most of your business goals you are better off with a website redesign. We actually recommend that you redesign your business website every 2 – 5 years depending on your business and industry.

Reasons for a website redesign include:

  • Not having a mobile-first site
  • No content management system (CMS)
  • Unable to update basic content yourself
  • Not meeting the expectations of your target audience
  • Not being able to add required content and/or functionality
  • Following outdated web design and development standards
  • Having too many outdated web design elements

A website redesign usually requires the services of a professional web designer or agency and can take 4 to 8 weeks or longer depending on your website and requirements. Since you are going to make significant changes you may want to consider adding content strategy or copywriting, new product or location images, search engine optimization and social media marketing to your project.

It may also be time to evaluate your current content management system and website hosting to decide if you need to make changes. If they are no longer meeting your needs you should make that part of your website redesign versus website update evaluation.

Can’t Decide Between a Website Redesign Versus Website Update?

Our innovative web design team can help you develop just about any type of website. We are experts at carefully crafting custom mobile-first websites to meet (almost) any budget. From designing new WordPress websites, redesigning or updating an existing website, building responsive e-Commerce websites to creating a multilingual online presence for your business we work directly with the client to prepare them for the ever more demanding mobile consumer. Why not get started by requesting your free web design estimate?

And if you are still not sure what all goes into user-friendly web design, don’t worry! Simply reach out and contact us. Our expert team will listen to you, answer your questions, and determine the best way to remove the obstacles in the way of your business objectives and continued growth. It is one of our specialties, after all!

Did You Need an Updated or Redesigned Website?

Did you recently decide your online presence needed a refresh? Was an update the better option? Or did you opt for a complete website redesign? And what kind of results did you achieve afterward? Please feel free to let us know so our audience can benefit as well and grab our feed so you don’t miss our next post! And feel free to share our post with your audience!

Thank you! We appreciate your help to end bad business websites, one pixel at a time!

By ESPRESSO Team Mobile-first experts translating innovative web design ideas into measurable business results! @ESPRESSOcreates