“Wouldn’t it be easier and more cost effective to use the existing site and update its theme and add new features?”
The question may sound simple, but the answer isn’t quite so straightforward. To start, even if an existing site is functional, it is often easier, and more cost effective, to rebuild from scratch instead of retrofitting the existing site.
To understand why, it’s important to understand that the way a website was originally built impacts it’s current state. Often, websites aren’t able to stay up-to-date with the latest technology and aren’t able to be scaleable enough to flex with more demanding needs as companies grow.
Upon initial release of a website, all of the components are very closely aligned to function together seamlessly. These components might include the content management system with its plugins and extensions; server-side processing, database and hosting configuration; interactive client-side scripts and libraries; design aesthetics, media, typography and user interfaces; copywriting, SEO and social campaigns; even the browsers and devices through which users access the project.
After the initial release, the components start to drift further away from one another without frequent, if not constant, maintenance. By simply retheming a website, some of the technology will persist, but much will be abandoned or replaced. The latest features might not even work in an older system.
Redesign if you’re able
When a site is no longer representative of its original state, a series of patches and minor features is rarely a long-term or cost-effective solution. Instead, consider a fresh start with a website redesign. It ensures that the technology is up-to-date and scalable, as well as giving you the opportunity to refresh the visuals and messaging to ensure that they align with where your company is at now, versus 2-3 years ago. Furthermore, a redesign often gives you the best long term cost savings, making your dollar, and your website, go further.