Business websites are very similar to a home. We put a lot of time and effort into building or buying the perfect model. And soon after we settle in, we notice imperfections that we’d really like to change.
It would be nice to have a mud room. Is there a way to move the kitchen sink to the island? Depending on our budget and time available, we’re either pursuing the upgrades or have a mental plan to tackle them later.
And as soon as we excitedly launch this new site, people are already pointing out what’s missing. It is difficult to find information about the XPJ38 model. Should we consider adding an FAQ page? Again, depending on our budget and time available, we’re either pursuing the upgrades or have a mental plan to tackle them later.
Some DIY jobs are easy. But others make us look longer and wonder if we wouldn’t be better off if we just built a new house. Instead of taking a step-by-step approach to our goals, it would allow us to start from scratch and achieve them all at once.
The same also applies to websites. The typical response to addressing perceived shortcomings is to correct something here, add something there, and maybe swap out a photo or two on these pages. This is exactly what happens with most websites. It works, but over time something starts to happen. Like a house with ill-planned additions, the grounds look a little run down. This page looks different than the others, or the navigation isn’t as good as it should be.
As frustrated as they may be, most homeowners are reluctant to abandon what they already have and build something new because they know it will be costly and take more time and effort than they are willing to put into it. And most businesses would rather try to keep fixing and updating their existing websites than starting over.
In the business context, the remodel-or-rebuild dilemma becomes more apparent as key aspects of the business change. Perhaps you’ve just launched a new product line that you hope represents the future of the company. Perhaps you have just acquired another company and are working hard to integrate their culture and operations into your operations. Sure, you can add a few new sides, but all too often it’s like a house with an unfortunate addition – something that makes you wonder what the owners were thinking.
One of the nicest things about websites is the fact that they aren’t physical. If you’re unhappy with your company’s office building, you can undertake renovations, but it’s likely to be expensive, complicated, and disruptive. Because a website is digital, it’s all about creating new content, design, and code. In fact, you can do all of this without affecting the functionality of your current website. A savvy marketing partner does all the work at a development site inaccessible to the outside world. Once the new site has received your “thumbs up,” it’s easy to replace the existing site.
Is replacing your existing website a better decision than revamping your existing website? Just like home renovations, decisions are required on some serious issues. Why is your current website not performing as well as you hoped? How has your company and your market changed since its inception? What features would you like to add (or remove)? Does your website contain outdated information or discontinued products and services? And just as important, how adept was your marketing partner at implementing change?
There may be other reasons for starting from scratch that you may not have thought of. The software behind your current system may be hopelessly outdated, requiring your IT team or vendor to develop workarounds whenever you want to change something. Your current website may still be optimized for widescreen monitors, making it a nightmare to navigate from a phone. It may not meet current accessibility standards for users with disabilities.
If you are considering embarking on a major home renovation project, the first thing you would probably do would be to speak to a trusted contractor. They would explain the rationale for your project and detail what you intend to do. A good contractor would consider what you want to achieve, and might even offer better ideas that you hadn’t thought of, or identify obstacles that require consideration of an alternative approach.
The right marketing partner will help you do the same by listening to your goals and helping you identify the best ways to achieve them. You can decide to tweak here and there to get what you want, or decide it makes more sense to start over. In any case, you will receive the expert advice you need.
Deborah Daily is a co-owner of Buckaroo Marketing | New Media, an advertising agency founded in 1999 and based in Fishers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.