Four ways to tell if it’s time to rebuild your website
Many questions come up when it’s time to decide whether your website needs a few cosmetic updates or a complete rebuild. How do you know the difference between the two?
The factors that will ultimately guide your final choice between updating the look of your site versus an extensive rebuild are surprisingly commonplace. Accurate Creative regularly consults with our clients to help them through the decision-making process. From our experience, a decision will come after asking four straightforward questions.
As a case in point, Accurate and the Association of Canadian Port Authorities (ACPA) recently collaborated on a rebuild of ACPA’s website. It was ten years old and gradually grew out of step with how they do business and engage with stakeholders and the public. The technology was also well-passed the ‘best before’ date. For those reasons and more, they decided the old site no longer worked for them.
Although ACPA had already decided to go for a complete rebuild, working through four common questions together confirmed the path forward. ACPA’s issues with their former website were familiar and common to many website projects we work on. They’re worth sharing, and in no particular order, these are four common questions that helped ACPA — and will help you — confirm it’s time for a website rebuild.
1. Has your brand changed significantly over time?
Ask yourself, has your business or organization gradually changed over time since your last website launch? Have your products, services or business models evolved? Have your conversations or transactions with clients changed? If it’s been a few years since your web launch, our bet is you’ve answered yes, yes, and yes.
Clients commonly engage Accurate Creative to rebuild their website for this reason. They realize they need to better communicate their brand values. In many cases, their websites are eight to ten years old. That’s a long time in business and even longer to expect a website to remain aligned with organizational changes, business practices, or gradual brand evolution and growth.
Another reason why ACPA chose to rebuild the website was content — which was either outdated or no longer relevant. Overall, the website’s structure was out of step with how their brand had evolved and how they engaged with stakeholders. Their new website gives them the format and tools to showcase who they are today, what they do, who they do it for, and connect with new audiences.
2. Is the technology a hot mess?
Some of the most animated conversations we have with clients are around their frustrations with their site. They can no longer edit (or have never been able to edit) the website, it has become slow and buggy or constantly crashes, leaving them in a panic. In short, they’re fed up and frustrated because the site has become a burden to manage.
Software such as browsers, plugins, and coding languages constantly evolve and improve to outwit hackers or be in step with consumer demand. Hardware changes happen in lock-step. Like a beloved old car you wish you could drive forever, someday your mechanic is going to give you the bad news that it’s beyond repair and time for a replacement. Eventually, every website reaches the same breaking point.
ACPA’s website had reached the point of obsolescence. Their main complaint was that they could not edit the site themselves. Their new site was built in WordPress and integrated a content management system (CMS). This gave them the keys to the car, so to speak, allowing them to edit and update independently and in a timely fashion.
3. Is it user-friendly and accessible?
Trying to read websites on your smartphone — that were coded before responsive technology became commonplace — can be a painful experience. And, if you get frustrated when you have to click seven layers deep into a website to find what you’re looking for, imagine what visitors to your site feel if they have to do the same. These are just a couple of issues that are common with older websites that ultimately drive visitors away.
Suppose your current website fits this description or isn’t compliant with Canada’s web accessibility compliance laws. It could mean lost business opportunities, lower search rankings, a loss of traffic, or of the above. Structural issues like these cannot be solved with a light makeover.
ACPA’s old website checked off a number of these boxes. It was not responsive, the content was hard to find, and it wasn’t compliant with accessibility laws. The new site solves all of these with a design that conforms to best practices for accessibility, scales seamlessly between desktop and smart devices, and deployed a new content structure that resulted in far fewer clicks to help visitors quickly find what they came for.
4. Does it meet the needs of your marketing team?
The days when a website served the sole purpose of an online corporate brochure are gone. Today, websites commonly integrate technology and tools that help many businesses grow by improving lead generation, complete sales transactions, engage stakeholders, and improve their client’s brand experience.
In ACPA’s case, their old website lacked the tools their business of today needed to succeed and grow. The new website showcases their work on behalf of their member port associations. With an important story to tell, the application of the latest tools such as an interactive map of their member ports offers visitors a more engaging brand experience. As well, new contact forms allow like-minded individuals or organizations to connect with ACPA. From a marketing perspective, these forms also allow ACPA to grow their membership. None of these marketing activities would have been possible without reimagining the website.
If there’s a set of takeaways we’d like to leave you with, consider the following. Suppose your brand or business processes have outgrown your current website. In that case, you don’t have the marketing tools you need to build your business. Maybe your site spends too much ‘time in the shop’ undergoing maintenance to keep it running? Either way, it’s probably time to rethink and rebuild. The process might seem daunting, and we’re not sugar-coating it — there is some heavy lifting to do to get the planning process off the ground. That’s where hiring the expert team at Accurate Creative comes into play. We’ve honed our way of doing business to help you better yours.