Starting Fresh vs. Updating the Old

Starting Fresh vs. Updating the Old
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in: The Basics

In my experience as a web developer, there are two roads to choose between when a client wants their website to change drastically for the better. The first road is the to update their presumably ancient site, which is most likely outdated not only in design but also in structure. This could mean using table layouts instead of divs, or having exact widths on everything as opposed to working with the modern method of percentages. Just a few years ago these things were normal and accepted. Now they are a thing of the past and considered to be a nuisance and obstacle. The other road taken is getting a completely fresh start with a new design, layout, and strategy to better equip your business for the tech savvy world we live in. In this blog post I will cover an in depth description of how the two options differ and which one might be the right choice for your website.

If your website is 4 years old or over, there is a good chance that it could use a great deal of sprucing up. The standards for what a website should look like and how it should function is constantly changing. It is your choice as a business/website owner to make the decision of whether you want to try to keep up with these changes, or be left behind. Obviously the more lucrative option is to keep it updated. Having the title of Website Developer associated with myself, I find that on a daily basis that my friends and family take it upon themselves to share their grievances with me about an app or website they visited that day where there things were broken or poorly organized or honestly just ugly. Something that was beautiful and clean cut and modern 3 to 4 years ago, is mostly likely at this point starting to show its age. Even if this is not apparent to you, many others, especially the younger generations who were brought up using keyboards and tablets will be able to tell easily and will probably not be returning to your site.

If you choose the first option, to update your old site, then here are a few things to be aware of.

  • This might be a cheaper option for the moment, but in the long, it will cost more when you eventually decide to redo your entire site because you will have already had to foot the bill for this update. The amount of work/cost per hour when you are updating a site vs. redoing a site is staggering. Updating is not only a pain for developers, but it takes longer too, which means more money. So if you are trying to save as much money as possible in the present, this might be the solution for you. Even so, knowing your options and also what you might be missing out on is always a good idea.
  • Choosing to put a facelift on your old site might mean sacrificing usability. Every year we discover new ways to implement functionality into our websites and depending on how old your site is, it might be limited as far as what kind of plugins will work with your site and how well they will work. This covers everything from custom posts, to the layout/functionality of your blog, or even your calendar plugin. Starting over from scratch will not only ensure to beautify your site, it will also make it stronger and easier for you to update in the future.

One pretty important case for redoing your site completely is having better code structure. Even though this isn’t something you can necessarily see from the website viewers perspective, it can change a site completely. For one thing, it will make future edits and content integration much quicker which means it will cost less. Apart from that, having your code be “up to code”, or valid as far as the W3C guidelines will make your site easier to find because it will make more sense to Google when it looks over your site and indexes it. So if having your site be readily available upon search engine requests is important to you, you might want to think about making sure that your backend code is up to date.

Lastly to sum up the previous points, choosing to completely redo your site could be compared to knocking out 5-or-so birds with one stone whereas updating your old site may give it a little bit of an edge for the moment, but it will most certainly not fix all of your problems or be as impressive as a total rebuild.

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