Website Cannabalism - Rebuilding When Upgrades Should Do | ITM News & Articles

Website Cannabalism - Rebuilding When Upgrades Should Do

A complete website rebuild should only be necessary as a last resort when alternative solutions have been fully explored.

Website Redesign

When should a website be rebuilt from scratch?

Rebuilding a website from scratch is a significant decision that can be driven by various factors indicating that minor updates or redesigns aren't sufficient. 

Here are key indicators that it might be time to consider a full website rebuild:

Technological Obsolescence: If your website's underlying technology or platform is outdated and no longer supported, a rebuild is necessary to ensure compatibility with modern software, hardware, and security standards. 

For example: Flash, once a popular technology for building interactive websites and animations, is no longer used for web development. Adobe officially discontinued support for Flash on December 31, 2020, and all major web browsers have phased out support for Flash content. 

Major Business Changes: If your business has undergone significant changes, like a major shift in the target audience, merger or acquisition, or a complete rebranding — a full rebuild may be necessary so that your website aligns with your new business strategy and identity. Design look and feel changes rarely necessitate a full website rebuild, however it may be cheaper to rebuild than to upgrade the existing design.

Poor Performance and Scalability Issues: When a website suffers from deep-rooted performance issues or cannot scale to meet growing user demands, a rebuild might be necessary to improve load times, responsiveness, and overall user experience.

Compromised Security: A website that has been compromised or is continually at risk due to inherent vulnerabilities in its software or structure might need a complete overhaul to enhance security protocols and protect user data. Removing malicious software or locating vulnerabilities in outdated code can be very time consuming and costly.

Inefficient Maintenance: If updating and maintaining your website becomes too time-consuming or costly due to its complex or outdated codebase, starting fresh with modern technologies can simplify maintenance and integration of new features.

Non-Responsive Design: In today's mobile-first world, a website that isn't fully responsive across all devices and screen sizes can significantly harm user experience and accessibility. A rebuild can address this issue fundamentally.

SEO Inefficiencies: If your website's structure is inherently SEO-unfriendly and modifications can't rectify deep-seated issues, rebuilding can ensure better compliance with SEO best practices from the ground up.

Integration Issues: A full rebuild may be required if your current website cannot integrate smoothly with essential business systems or emerging technologies necessary for your operations.

Deciding to rebuild a website should involve careful consideration of these factors, alongside a cost-benefit analysis to determine if the investment will adequately address the challenges and meet the long-term strategic goals of your business.

Why do website designers recommend a complete rebuild even when it isn't necessary?

There can also be less positive reasons why website designers might recommend a complete rebuild of a website when it might not be strictly necessary. Here are a few such reasons:

Financial Incentives: A complete website rebuild can be more expensive than making incremental updates or fixes. Some designers or agencies might recommend a full rebuild to increase their revenue, even if a less extensive approach would suffice.

Skill Limitations: In some cases, a designer or team might not have the specific skills or knowledge to address complex issues within the existing site structure and may find it easier to start fresh rather than navigating and modifying old code. Often the people we call website designers are nothing more than plugin jockeys, and lack the skill to do real web development and understand the underlying code.

Preference for Familiar Technologies: Designers might prefer working with specific platforms or technologies they are more familiar with, rather than adapting to those already used in the existing website. This can sometimes lead to a recommendation for a rebuild using their preferred systems, regardless of whether it's the best choice for the client.

Portfolio Building: Some designers might push for a complete redesign to create a more dramatic "before and after" showcase for their portfolio. This can be more appealing and impressive to potential clients than subtle improvements.

Avoiding Tedious Work: Troubleshooting and updating an existing site, especially if it involves dealing with legacy systems or outdated code, can be more tedious and time-consuming than starting from scratch. A designer might prefer to rebuild because it's a cleaner, more straightforward process.

Miscommunication or Misalignment: Sometimes, a recommendation for a full rebuild stems from a lack of clear communication or understanding of the client’s needs and constraints. The designer might not fully grasp what the client wants or needs, leading to overblown solutions.

It's important for clients to critically assess the need for a complete website rebuild, considering both their strategic goals and the specific issues with their current website. Getting a second opinion or consulting with another expert can also provide additional perspective and help ensure that the proposed solution aligns with their actual requirements.

When should a website be upgraded and not rebuilt from scratch?

Upgrading a website rather than rebuilding it from scratch is often a more efficient choice under certain conditions. Here are several scenarios where an upgrade might be the preferred approach:

Functional Foundation: If your website's core functions are sound and it meets basic performance and security standards, upgrading specific features or designs might be sufficient.

Budget Constraints: Upgrades can be more cost-effective than a full rebuild. If budget is a concern, focusing on incremental improvements can provide a good return on investment without the need for a larger expenditure.

Recent Development: If the website was developed relatively recently and uses modern technologies, it may only need updates to content, security patches, or minor design tweaks to stay current.

Specific Issues: Sometimes, the issues with a website might be confined to specific areas, such as the checkout process in an e-commerce site or a particular set of features. Addressing just those issues can be more practical than a full rebuild.

SEO Preservation: A well-established website with strong search engine rankings might lose some of its SEO value if completely rebuilt. Upgrading allows you to maintain SEO continuity while making necessary improvements.

Time Constraints: Upgrades can usually be implemented faster than a full rebuild. If you need improvements made quickly, perhaps in response to market changes or regulatory requirements, upgrading is quicker and less disruptive.

User Familiarity: When users are accustomed to the layout and functionality of your website, drastic changes can potentially confuse or alienate them. Upgrades allow for incremental improvements that respect existing user habits and preferences.

In summary, upgrading a website is appropriate when you need to address specific functional gaps, optimize user experience, or stay current with technological advancements without discarding the functional parts of your existing website setup.

At ITM we are focused on preserving your investment in digital marketing and will only recommend a website redesign if it is absolutely necessary.

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