What is a Website Refresh vs Website Redesign?
Your website is the hub to any and all online and digital marketing efforts these days.
Many companies consider it their primary “salesperson” or want their website to become their number one “salesperson” by becoming a lead generation machine that pre-sells your organization for a more efficient sales process. If your website isn’t working well as a lead generation engine now, you’ll need to start making improvements — which leads to this question:
Should I do a Refresh of My Existing Website or a Full Website Redesign?
While there is no “one size fits all” response to this question, we’ll attempt to help you understand the key considerations that need to be evaluated to make the right decision on how to get started with your project.
A Critical Point: What Your Technical Audience Cares About
Because we work exclusively with B2B technical companies, we’ve learned and developed many patterns for what your technical prospects care about.
There is often a paradigm in the prospect’s research cycle in which an influencer, often someone more technical in nature (think engineers, surgeons, etc.), goes online to start researching solutions to their problem. This technical influencer is looking to solve a problem, find a solution, or innovate in some way. They may be seeking to fix a problem on a production line (greater throughput, reduced downtime, greater safety, etc.), perform a medical procedure with improved patient outcomes, or develop a new product (or improve an existing one), just to name a few examples.
This influencer will be visiting your website looking for information about your offerings, in the context of how you can help them do their job, and how you’ve helped solve similar problems before. Once they’ve developed enough trust that you can solve their problem, and developed an affinity with your business (enough to put their neck on the line by recommending you), they’ll recommend you in their own proposed internal solutions. While it’s often someone in the C-suite, purchasing, procurement, or another management-level individual that signs the contract, this technical influencer is typically the most important persona for your website content.
Why does this matter in the context of this article?
This is where marketing can go very wrong. Your website must be speaking the language and offering the technical information and functionality that your best customers seek in their evaluation process when they interact with your website, or they’ll bounce.
In other words, if your website doesn’t answer their questions they’ll move on to find another website that does rather than spend time trying to get their answers from your sales department.
The decision to refresh or redesign a website for B2B companies should be focused on the content and functionality of the site much more heavily than the visual look-and-feel. While visuals absolutely matter and do make an impact in establishing trust and authority, we see too many companies hang their hat on a “pretty” or “artistic” website that is too abstract for what technical audiences care about or misses important content, thus negatively impacting your performance.
Website Refresh Definition
A website refresh is an iterative approach to implementing the most critical enhancements and updates to an existing website.
A website refresh is often advantageous for making quick improvements to an existing website that has a good technical foundation. It can also be done in tandem with a full-scale website redesign, to implement quick band-aids for content and positioning that are being developed in the context of a larger redesign effort.
Our Website Refresh Process
When we work with a website that our team didn’t originally develop, we’ll conduct a website investigation aimed at fixing the most critical security and maintenance issues from the current site before we migrate your site hosting (if preferred or recommended) to a more performant host. This will also uncover additional opportunities for performance improvement or technical/foundation clean-up.
From there, we will strategize and further define the enhancements to be made to the existing site, grouping them into prioritized phases by which they’ll be implemented, as well as defining responsibilities for who’s doing what. Certain phases may be heavier in positioning and UX, others in the design, and most will include development and content. At the end of each phase, thorough QA and testing should occur before final work is deployed to the production (live) site. Rinse, wash, repeat, and don’t forget to look at actual performance metrics and business priorities to adjust your plan for the next phase as needed.
Website Redesign Definition
A website redesign is a more full process to create a new website built on a fresh, more modern codebase addressing both existing (technical) issues, as well as improving upon the overall strategy of your existing site.
If your existing website is on an older codebase (more than 3-4 years old), on a proprietary CMS, or an otherwise cumbersome framework or theme, a website redesign may be the best investment for your future marketing, however, small “refresh” updates may still make sense in tandem.
Our Website Redesign Process
You can read more about the full website redesign process here. This process includes all of the pieces touched on in a website refresh, but with a more linear order from strategy, positioning, UX, SEO, Content, Development, and one larger launch of an entirely new website.
These are sweeping generalizations above and there are, of course, nuances to the pros and cons of each approach.
Which Approach is Right for Me?
If you’re unsure which approach is best for you, don’t fret. It’s actually quite common.
Strategy must precede implementation. This goes without saying. You’ll still need to do critical thinking to prepare a strategy. You’ll learn more as you start documenting your strategy, and that will continue to provide clarity around which approach you should proceed with. In other words, you don’t need to decide if a refresh or redesign is better; you can wait until the strategy and planning is finished to make a more informed decision.
To help get started, you should check out the training modules and lessons we’ve developed that will guide you through preparing your strategy which can be done before, during, and even after you’ve engaged an agency to help on your project. You can also grab a free template from this article that guides you to develop a strategy (or creative) brief.
Since a website is a living asset to any business, you should be constantly making enhancements to it. There is never just one right way to do things within this type of work. You may start with refresh work and learn more about how your audience interacts with your website, or find that new information is available that influences what you decide to do next.
On our mission to help B2B companies implement more modern marketing practices, we’re happy to have an initial conversation to understand your goals near and long-term, and will offer objective advice on which approach may best fit for your situation, considering the many aspects that go into making a decision of a website refresh vs a website redesign.