What does your website need – a redesign or a rebuild?

Your website is the first thing people see when they’re looking for information about your business. It needs to look good, represent your brand well, and be easy to use. You need a website that’s got your business’s best interests at heart.

If your website is looking a little tired, maybe it’s time for a redesign. However, if you’re finding that your website isn’t meeting your needs, or is lacking technical functionality, maybe it’s time for a rebuild. Let’s have a look at the differences between website redesign and website rebuild so you can be informed when choosing which is right for you.

Why website redesigns are complicated

Redesigning your website is not a small undertaking. We often hear people want a “light reskin” of their site, updating its look and feel to better match current trends. However, this sort of superficial approach can ignore underlying issues with user experience as well as navigation or site performance.

What people don’t realise is that what seems like a small update to a site’s visual design can require some major updates to underlying code. A true website redesign is about more than just aesthetics. It is a multi-phase process that requires full technical consideration that includes discovery and design in addition to front-end coding.

Here is an example of a website part that we have redesigned for our client Animal Emergency Service. AES wanted to adopt ‘storybrand’ on the homepage of the pet emergency hospital chain which changes the layout and the design conceptually, all the while the backend stays the same.

Before we started working with AES

Before we adopted storybrand

Current website with storybrand


What is storybrand?

Storybrand is based on the idea that, in order to be successful, businesses need to create a story around their product or service that engages customers and helps them understand what the business is all about.

The story doesn’t need to be complicated – in fact, it’s often best if it isn’t. A few key elements can be used to create a simple, clear and emotionally engaging story that helps deliver the message you want to get across – and that will help your business stand out from the crowd.


How storybrand works

1. A character steps into the story (that’s your customer).
2. Problem (they need help solving it).
3. They meet a guide (that’s you!).
4. The guide gives them a plan (how to solve their problem).
5. That plan calls them to action (to buy from you to solve their problem).


How we implemented storybrand on the AES website

  • Put ourselves in the customers’ shoes. The focus of the website was shifted to put the customer at the center of the experience and we developed a message that would resonate with their needs.
  • Presented one clear message when first landing on the website that answers the core question every potential customer has, “What problem in my life will your product/service help me solve?”.
  • Utilised video in the header to efficiently communicate our message and how AES can help solve your problems.
  • Reduced the length of the copy to keep it focused.
  • Made the call-to-action on the website ‘sticky’ and clear so the customer can take an action at any time when on the website.
  • Introduced a Chatbot and implemented channels for customer questions and feedback to create two-way communication.


How does a redesign differ from a rebuild?

The phrase “website redesign” is often used as a catch-all for website design and development projects, but we’re aware that this might cause some confusion.

Clients frequently come to us to talk about “redesigning” their site.  They may be seeking to upgrade its appearance. We often find that to meet their needs and goals, it needs more than a simple visual makeover. The website’s code generally needs to be rebuilt. A couple of examples you need to consider a rebuild rather than a redesign are:

  • If you have built a website (most likely yourself) in Wix, Squarespace or other self-serve CMS platforms. We don’t redesign, reskin or in fact touch any of these sites. Our web development team would say ‘People don’t do Wix on friends’. 🙂
  • Your website theme is outdated and no longer supported. This can happen if you work with website templates and there is nothing we can do about it. There is probably a reason why developers stopped supporting your template or theme and it’s better to move to something else.
  • Your site got hacked to a degree that it can’t be rescued.
  • The site has been built so sloppy that it takes more time to redesign than to rebuild. We see this quite often with websites that have been built by low-budget developers that use free plugins and low quality QA processes. There are only so many ways you can make a turd look pretty. It’s often better to upgrade the whole lot. The reason why you came to us in the first place is that you and your business are at a point in your business life where you want to upgrade, better yourself and your business and have the funds to do so. If your business has matured then your website should, too.


A website rebuild is a more extensive process than a website redesign. It typically starts with an analysis of your website’s current state, including an evaluation of your website’s architecture, content, and functionality. Once this analysis is complete, the rebuild team will create a detailed project plan that outlines the work to be done and the steps needed to complete it.

All this research will culminate in a scope of work document that will be peer reviewed internally before we present it to the client. Sounds like a lot of work. Let me assure you, it is a lot of work. But when you do it properly then there should be no questions about what needs to be done, how long it takes, what resources are needed and what it will cost.

The outcome might be a complex process, with one or more of the following types of updates:


CMS re-platform

We may find that the Content Management System on which a site is built needs to be updated. Or we may advise switching to a different platform entirely when planning its requirements (remember what we said about Wix before). The process of upgrading the site or moving to another platform necessitates a lot of technical expertise in order to guarantee that it runs smoothly and without problems after the migration. In our opinion, you choose a CMS that is:

  • Manageable by your team if you decide you want to update content internally yourself without the assistance of a front end developer, UX / UI designer.
  • Is regularly updated and supported (especially if you opt for an Open Source Platform like WordPress)


Technical rebuild

A website redesign project may require the implementation of a variety of new functionalities, such as a new search service, eCommerce capabilities, integration with a Marketing Automation Platform. And of course, enhancing the site code to make it more scalable and flexible. Developers must delve into the code of the website and often rebuild it from the bottom up in order to implement these features.


Front end rebuild for responsive design

Because the number of people using mobile devices to access the Internet rises, it’s critical to ensure that your website is accessible to everyone, regardless of their device or screen size. A responsive design should be used when creating any new website. This often necessitates a complete overhaul of the site’s CSS/HTML in order for it to adapt to website fluidity at various screen widths.


Quality Assurance

No matter which option you decide to choose, it is important that you have a decent Quality Assurance (QA) process during the redesign and rebuild process. QA ensures that your website not only looks good but also functions as it should.

During the QA process we test for issues like broken links, CSS errors, image resolution problems, and animation deprecation. We also perform cross-browser testing, website load time testing, and user experience (UX) testing.

Without robust QA, your website redesign or rebuild project can easily go wrong. Copy, design, and functionality issues can easily occur if the proper attention isn’t given to testing. Worse yet, these issues may not be discovered until after the website goes live – a scenario you definitely want to avoid!

We’ve had clients come to us from other agencies with unfinished web pages and incomplete migrations as a result of not having good QA. Fortunately, we’ve been able to help fix these problems to get great results for our clients.

As part of our QA we clean up and minify website code, thoroughly test website functionality, and ensure that any site changes are pixel perfect. We use MarkUp to peer-review the websites we build before they launch. After making any changes, we then share it with the client so they can add their comments and feedback. We take great pride in our work and our clients can rest assured that they are getting a website that not only looks beautiful but also works as it should.


How to choose whether you need a website redesign or a rebuild

Choosing the right option for you depends on a number of factors including your website’s requirements, its business goals, and your budget. Here are a few factors to consider when you’re choosing between a website redesign or a rebuild…

  • Speak to someone qualified, like a web developer or a business friend who has been in a similar boat to you before.
  • Weigh up the benefits, risks and costs. You don’t want to blindly scrape everything together and then can’t afford the upkeep.
  • Come up with a timeline, figure out who needs to sign off on the process and what budget you can make available.
  • Consider updating your content and visual assets. If you have a website with cliparts you might need to engage a designer to bring your look and feel into the 21st century. A new car with an old interior wouldn’t be a good look, would it?


What are my website goals?

When deciding between website redesign and website rebuild, you need to know what your website goals are. What do you want your website to achieve for your business?

Some common website goals include website traffic, leads, or sales. If your website isn’t achieving these goals, then it might be time for a website rebuild. A website rebuild can create a website that’s customised for your business to help you reach your desired results. This will tell your story.

By upgrading your technical infrastructure you might also gain more functionality that helps you figure out why you are not achieving your goals. E.g. split test landing pages, A/B testing funnels and colours and buttons and Call-to-Actions and, and, and… The options are limitless.


What are my website requirements?

In order to decide if you need a website redesign or rebuild, you also need to know your website requirements. What do you need your website to do?

Do you need eCommerce capabilities? How about a Marketing Automation Program integrated?  An inclusive website? Do you need your website to be mobile-friendly? The answer to the last question is a resounding YES! Always!

Here are a couple of considerations for you:

  • What does your customer base think about your website?
  • Did they give you any feedback in the past about how easy or hard it is to find something?
  • Do you have sufficient analytics so you can draw conclusions as to where your site is currently failing?
  • Have you considered installing a website visitor tracking software such as Hotjar or CrazyEggs to see how people are navigating your site? Heatmaps, visitor recordings and even live website polls can give you deeper insights into your website’s performance.

In order to create a website that meets your specific requirements, a website rebuild is the better option. A website redesign can provide a website that looks modern and updated, but it might not include all of the features you need.


What is my budget?

As a website rebuild typically involves more work than a website redesign project, website rebuilds can incur more costs. You will need to decide if the investment is justified or not. Moreover, you need to consider how much longer you can live with what you’ve got and how important a re-skin or a rebuild is to you. First, determine your website goals and website requirements, and interpret your analytics. Then, you can determine what your website budget needs to be.

Most website redesigns cost less than website rebuilds, but the costs can vary dramatically depending on the number of changes that are needed. An experienced and ethical web developer will have a better idea of the cost depending on the extent of changes you require and will be able to present you with options. Our CEO Sonja would say here ‘What’s the point of quoting Jurassic Park, if all you can afford is a chicken coop’!

website redesign or rebuild


What is my timeline?

The length of the redesign or rebuild is dependent on the complexity of the project. A website redesign could take anywhere from 3-12 weeks to complete. Whereas website rebuilds can take months depending on the website size and website requirements. Let’s assume your website also needs to integrate with stock management systems or sync with Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and your POS. Then you have significantly more QA to do before you confidently can go live.


In conclusion

If your website is struggling with design or functionality, it may be time for a website rebuild. A website redesign can give your website a fresh new look. But it cannot fix all the underlying issues that may be causing problems and may even cause you more down the road!

If you just want a website that looks good but doesn’t provide any added value for your business, then a website redesign is the right solution. However, if you want to grow your website’s design using better technology, a website rebuild is probably the best choice. Having a website that can achieve its purpose can help increase website traffic. Customer engagement metrics will ultimately help drive success for your business.


Ready to discuss your website with us?

Let our team of experienced and ethical website developers evaluate your website needs from strategy through to implementation. We guarantee quality work that drives results! Get in touch with us today to discover how we can help you make your website work as hard as your business does.