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Refresh vs Redesign: Which is the Right Choice for Your Website?
Oct 08,
Refresh vs Redesign: Which is the Right Choice for Your Website?
What are the differences and why does it matter to your business?

In life, we often feel the need for change. Whether it's small changes in physical appearances, such as different hair color, or some major adjustments, such as a change in life habits, changes almost always bring good things with them.

Believe it or not, the same can be said of websites. Although they exist only in digital form, they are tools that are in contact with people. We perceive them as we perceive people - some are attractive to us, some seem boring, and some are difficult for us to cope with.

Great advancements have taken place and continue to happen in the thirty-one years since the first website was created. 

Website design plays a big role in the communication between the company or brand and the visitor or customer.

That is why occasional website design and interface revisions are not unexpected. However, there is a big difference between refreshing and redesigning a website. Although the boundary between the two is thin, two things completely separate them: structure and functionality.

And since you are already reading this text, we believe you are looking for a change! The most important part is determining whether or not your website needs a total overhaul or simply a fresh coat of paint. This is the job of the best UX design firms. Experts are here to fulfill all your visions and ideas directed toward change.

What Does Your Website Really Need: a Simple "Refresh" or a Total "Redesign"?

First, let's ask two important questions…

1. What does it mean to "Refresh" your Website?

A refresh is any update that doesn't change your site's overall structure. 

For example, you may have noticed that Google changes its logo from time to time, especially when a big celebration is taking place. But its essential functionality - the search engine itself - still works exactly the same.

You might breathe new life into your website by updating your branding colors and graphics, but be consistent with your content. Your navigation menu, existing pages, and blog posts stay just as they are, with the same hierarchy.

You can look at it as getting a new paint job for your car. It may look more vibrant now, but it's still the same engine under the hood.

Or even just getting a haircut - you're the same person, but with a different hairstyle!

It's possible to refresh a website with a simple change of typeface, but it might need a complete revamp of the color palette for your organization. You may either make all of the changes at once, or one at a time, to see how each modification affects the website's SEO.

Designers may make one or two tiny modifications every week over a longer period of time as part of an ongoing website refresh effort. 

For many website owners, it's easier to keep their sites up to date over the course of months or years with these subtle changes.

2. Why should you "Refresh" your Website?

Consider these four use cases for a Website Refresh.

Company Rebranding

For instance, your company has decided to change its name or go with a completely new logo. Since people online recognize you by it, it's necessary to refresh your website around it. 

Related: Changing Your Business Name: Get the Free Guide and Checklist  

Search Engine Optimization

Google's algorithms have developed so much and it's becoming increasingly hard to keep up. So, if you are planning to redesign your whole structure with every update, that wouldn't be the best idea.

However, it is good to keep up with the latest SEO best practices in order to improve your search engine rankings. Having an eye on your content optimization is a smart idea.

Better User Experience

Simple improvements to your website that will assist your visitors in swiftly and simply browsing it include promoting relevant material, making minor adjustments to menus, and adding search filters to the information you publish.

Updating Your Content

Maybe there is a change in your product or service offerings or you have had changes in personnel.  Your organization might relocate or expand to multiple locations or your organization's contact information has changed. Perhaps you want to share your latest projects or announce news and updates about your organization. These types of changes to existing content don't necessarily require a whole new website and may be more viable (and cost-effective) to implement on a case-by-case basis. 

Oftentimes it is more cost-effective to refresh specific parts of your website, but piece-mealing significant changes might be more time consuming than a website redesign...

So, What is a Website Redesign?

Redesigning a website is akin to rebuilding the engine that powers your car from the ground up.

If you're doing a website redesign, you may have to change your Content Management system (CMS) or transition to a responsive design from a static one. This makes a redesign more complex and time-consuming, and it may even require custom website redesign services in order to keep it updated.

Unlike a refresh, a website redesign is a whole new endeavor. 

As with a brand new website, a redesign begins with user research and discovery sessions, progresses through the whole web design and production process, and concludes with a launch.

It's possible to remodel your website by building a new skin or theme using your existing website by implementing a new color scheme and/or layout.

Consider a Website Redesign if...

  • Your Website takes a long time to load: The most common reason companies have to revamp their websites is slow load times.

According to Google, the probability of your website's bounce rate increases 32% as page load time goes from 1 second to 3 seconds.

(Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017)

  • Your Website uses outdated technology: If your website doesn't look contemporary or work across modern devices including the latest smartphones you might not be showing up when people try to search for you on their mobile device. 

Google's new mobile-first approach negatively affects search presence for websites which don't offer a responsive mobile experience.

  • Your company is going through a full rebrand:  Consider a comprehensive overhaul of your website when you rebrand your organization or go through a merger or an acquisition.

    Redesigning a company's visual identity, including its logo, colors, typography, and other design elements, as well as its corporate narrative, media, and user experience, are all part of the rebranding process.

  • Your Digital Strategy has changed: A company's digital strategy is hugely dependent on the content being placed on the website and social media and should focus on delivering uniform messaging.

    Changes to your site's content strategy and design may need a fresh approach in order to coincide with the content marketing, advertising, and SEO elements of your overall digital strategy.

Now that You Know the Difference, How do You Determine Which is the Best Decision for You?

What are some good questions to help you decide which is the best option for you?

In case you are still unsure whether your website needs a simple refresh or a complete redesign, you can ask some useful questions and base your decision upon the answers.

Examples to help with your self-assessment:

  • Do I need to improve my online presence?

  • Does my existing website reflect my organization's brand and identity?
  • Am I getting enough of the right visitors to my website?

  • Do my customers have problems using my website?
  • Does my website function properly and work across both desktop/laptop computers and tablets/smartphones?

  • Is it easy to add or edit content on my website, such as updating text, adding links, and uploading or embedding images and videos?

Cost-effectiveness is an Important Element of Planning

Think of it this way: your wooden windows are still functioning well, but your new sofa would look better with another shade of brown. So which would be less expensive, buying new windows or refurbishing them?

Changing the colors of your website or the fonts is typically a simple and affordable process. However, making the switch to a new content management system may require a significant amount of time, money, and effort.

When your visitors are having a hard time signing up for your email list, it might be as simple as updating your visuals or adding a popup subscription box. 

You can't speed up your website by adding new visuals, but you can do it by redesigning it and making it more user-friendly.

Consider using a refresh strategy in order to boost traffic to your website or just renew your brand. A redesign is the best option if you're looking for a more responsive design or want to modify the structure of your website.

Either way you go, this investment is good to make because first impressions are everything!

Planning ahead will Help You...a lot.

Improving your online presence can reap you benefits whether you are freshening things up or redesigning the entire website.  

In order to represent the real-life changes within your organization your website, being a continuous work in progress, may go through several iterations over time.

How many times have you regretted a change you've made in your life? How much did it cost you? You've probably learned to think ahead next time you decide to transform some things around you.

Considering the cost and time investment in making changes to your website it is important to think about what your goals are before taking any action. Following the tips provided today may help you grasp what making changes, whether simple or complex, can bring to your organization in terms of branding, reputation, quality of service, and profitability.

Whatever course you choose to take we hope you are now able to better understand what kind of benefits both of these strategies can have.  

Share your experiences or questions about refreshing vs redesigning your website in the comments below!

Disclaimer: The opinion of Insercorp Water Cooler Bloggers are of their own and do not reflect the official position(s) of Insercorp LTD


Victor Baldin
Guest Blogger
Victor Baldin is a digital marketing specialist and guest contributor.
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