If you’re finding that your site looks or feels dated, then you’ve probably considered giving it a complete redesign. While this isn’t a bad option, it’s also not your only option. The concept of a website ‘refresh’ has been gaining a lot of traction recently. It’s a less severe kind of reset that updates the look of a site without messing with functionality and is often much more cost-effective and less disruptive to traffic.
So, What Exactly is a ‘Refresh’?
Essentially, ‘refreshing’ a site (sometimes referred to as ‘re-skinning’) is like changing out the paint and décor in a house. It may look completely different in the end, but the bones are still the same. When doing a refresh, you make small but important changes, like switching the color of the menus and adjusting the text size, but avoid changing out any major elements.
Small changes like color and sizing can have a profound impact on the overall look and feel of a site, and some websites actually prefer to simply refresh the site over the course of a few years rather than invest in a full redesign.
Refreshes can be made up of a few small changes that are implemented at the same time, or they can take months to really be considered ‘done’. In fact, some sites are in a near-constant state of ‘refresh’ as they gain more feedback from their users.
How is This Different From a Redesign?
If refreshing a site is repainting the walls, then redesigning a site is taking the wall out completely. If you’re redesigning a site, then you’re changing key elements of the site’s functionality – removing or adding features that change how users interact with the website as a whole.
The line between ‘refresh’ and ‘redesign’ isn’t always clear but a good general rule is that if you’ve done something large like streamlined a shopping experience or altered the way users navigate, it’s ‘redesigning’.
Which is the Better Option?
There are several things to consider when deciding whether or not to commit to a full redesign of your site. For example:
- Has it been more than three years since the last time the site was overhauled?
- Has your business changed significantly?
- Does your current site have a responsive design?
- Are users getting frustrated with the way the site functions?
- Do you find it difficult to edit your site or manage any content it displays?
- What’s your realistic budget for addressing any issues the site has?
Answering these can give you a solid idea of whether or not a redesign is really needed or if a refresh will clear up the issues you’ve been having just as well.
Refreshing a site generally costs less and can be done over a long period of time which minimizes any inconvenience to the user. Redesigning a site may take months and is usually better for sites with high abandon rates. That said, redesigning a site that was running on an unstable or outdated platform is a very good business move since it improves security as well as functionality.
Starting over and redesigning your site probably won’t be an overnight decision, but it’s important to note, for those of you on the fence, that the cost of web design isn’t what it used to be. In some cases, it can actually be cheaper to start from square one with a new site than to try to build on the old one. Ultimately, the final say belongs to you. You’ll know when it’s time for a new start.