Should I renovate my website or go for a new build? - Ronin Marketing
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Should I renovate my website or go for a new build?

renovated vs new build website

Should I renovate my website or go for a new build?

Unless they’ve done it before, it’s often difficult for customers to understand the level of complexity in changing their website. It makes them fearful about asking for things that might be too expensive or conversely they underestimate the implications of what they consider to be a straightforward job. If the website builder is not diligent and competent, this usually means the entire process will be fraught and ultimately, the client won’t get what they really need.

Recently, I and one of Ronin’s graphic designers were talking to a client about some updates to his website. The client was planning on opening up his business into the United States and was considering what and how much he needed to change on his website. As always cost was a factor. He was asking whether we could make changes to the existing site rather than build a new one – because he assumed it would be cheaper.

My designer compared this to renovating a house rather than building a new one. “When you start lifting the floorboards, you never quite know what you’ll find; what horrors did the original builder leave behind?” On the other hand, “building a new house gives you complete freedom to do whatever you want, using the latest materials and technology, so it looks great and performs well”.

Adding additional pages to an existing website should be fairly straightforward, as long as it is relatively recently built and uses a modern platform (like WordPress). However, this is comparable to adding an extension to the existing structure. It needs to be done skilfully and carefully, connecting all the services and making sure it doesn’t look like a monstrous carbuncle on the face of an old friend, as somebody once said.

Of course building a new house first requires a full set of architect’s plans. The same is true of a website. People almost always talk to us about ‘designing’ a new website, and they often give little or no thought to the planning involved. Think of the website as a digital representation of your entire business. Good website planning needs to be detailed and thorough. It takes time and considerable effort but it is fundamental. Trying to put the roof on before the foundations are dug is obviously going to end in disaster and if the website doesn’t fall down of its own accord, it will usually need to be torn down and rebuilt properly. We quite often get panicky phone calls from people in exactly this sort of situation.

If you know you will be expanding your business in the not-so-distant future, it is worth building a website which can easily accommodate any changes you might eventually want to make, even if it doesn’t seem necessary at the time. Incorporating this functionality from the get-go could help you save valuable time and money which can be used to develop other areas of your business.

The other thing our client wanted was to change to  a .com URL, which is vital for his US business. The domain name cost him a few pounds and he assumed that just changing it from the existing .co.uk URL would be simple. The mechanics of changing the URL are indeed straightforward. However, every page, plugin, link, image, blog, social media post and contact form on his site, is linked to the existing URL.  Without careful management essential links will be broken and years of search engine performance will also be lost. As our designer said, think of it like moving house; you have to let everybody know. You won’t get you electricity or gas supply until you give the new address to your providers.

My advice to any business owner is just to explain to your website agency in plain English what you want the website to do for you. Talk to them about your business and how you want it to be perceived. You don’t need to understand anything about website design and technology. By all means, show them other websites which appeal to you (they don’t have to be in your industry) and basic things such as which colours you prefer (if any). Saying things like, I only want a couple of pages, or I don’t want anything too fancy, isn’t going to help you or them.

If your agency is any good they will ask you all the right questions and listen carefully to your answers. Then they will be able to provide options and a ball-park budget. All of which means they should be able to go on and create a website that will not only do what you’ve asked for your business, but also make you feel really good about it.

For now, we have recommended that our client adds some new pages to the site with relevant content for his new market. He is going to use the .com domain with a redirect to the existing URL and we are planning a new site for 18 months’ time.

If you are in need of a new website, learn more about our web design service.

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