Do you really need a brand-new website?

How to decide when to iterate and when to start fresh

There are many reasons that you might be thinking about a new website for your business. Perhaps your business goals have changed and it no longer represents you well, maybe the design is just a little outdated compared to your trendy competitor, or you just want a fresh try at getting what you want. But, depending on your situation, you may not really have to start from scratch.

Let’s discuss some things you should consider when deciding whether to start over or to make improvements:

1.  How long has it been since your last iteration?

If it’s been a while, the odds are high you’ll want to start fresh. Technology evolves quickly, including our own CMS platform. New solutions to old problems might not be possible if we try to work within the existing site. Updated technology can be leveraged to provide a better user experience to your visitors, or to make content management easier and more efficient for your internal team.


2.   Do you just want to update the look & feel?

You can probably just make improvements to what you already have. Design trends change fast; it only takes a few years for your site to fall behind and start looking dated. If the content and functionality of the site is sound but the look and feel is dated, we can slap on a new coat of paint without starting from scratch.


3.   Has your business changed?

When to iterate: Businesses can outgrow their website as they develop their services and grow their team. This is usually an incremental process that builds on previous successes, so it can be possible to flesh out the existing information architecture to accommodate growth. For example, a single services page may be broken into a few pages, so you can talk about your expanded offerings in more detail. A full-fledged employee directory can replace a simple team page.

When to start over:  If the business has completely pivoted in a new direction; it is time to consider a complete overhaul.


4.   Have the goals for the website changed?

For example, a site for a new business may focus on customer acquisition, but as the company grows the focus shifts to providing customer service for existing clients. The discovery step of our process includes identifying the audiences and what they are there to view and do.

When to iterate: If the list of tasks has simply extended, it may be possible to accommodate new use cases with an incremental update.

When to start over: If the primary purposes for visiting have completely changed, an entirely new site may be needed.

5.  How drastic are the changes?

The previous questions help us work towards an answer to the last big question: how radical is the update?

  • Incremental updates are usually cost-effective to build on what you’ve got. To use a real-world example: if a coffee shop wants to start selling food they can add a small countertop display of muffins baked by a third party.
  • Transformative projects are better accomplished by starting fresh. Continuing the coffee shop example: if they want to become a café with a wide variety of pastries baked in-house, the entire store needs an overhaul, from the back kitchen to the front counter and seating area for customers. This is a transformative evolution that requires starting from scratch. The store is still at the same address, but the inside has been gutted and overhauled to accommodate the transformed business. This is much more effective than trying to cram a bakery workstation next to the espresso machine.

At Getfused, we follow an iterative process. In the digital space, users, technology, style and more are constantly changing. To make sure our client’s online presence continues to meet their goals, we monitor and evaluate their digital products over time, looking for opportunities to improve. When the time comes to make changes, the biggest question is: Should we build on top of what we’ve got or start fresh? We help our clients walk through this decision to ensure they get exactly the technology they need now that will grow with them in the future.