I often get emails from prospective clients who say they don’t need a new website since they already have one — they just need a facelift.
Unfortunately, when you look under the hood of a site, there can be so many issues that it often makes more sense to start from scratch. Especially if that site was created when a different president was in office.
I’ve been designing for the web since 1998 – I remember a time when we had to code every single rollover, used densely nested tables to create “exotic” designs and were limited to a width of 640 pixels. That’s a little more than half of today’s standard static width sites – we have even more space in fluid or responsive designs.
Reusing old site code is like renovating a house – it’s ok to patch problems and leaks here and there, but sometimes it’s best to cut your losses and start over – especially if you have a site that was created before the era of content management systems. In the modern age, we strive to separate code from content – this makes it easy to update, modify and future-proof our sites.
I can sympathize with wanting to hang onto the old – my husband and I spent three years and thousands of dollars renovating our 1916 house. Trust me when I say it would have been a lot easier (and cheaper) to start with a new house!
I often see people so attached to what was created before that they prevent themselves from seeing the possibility of what COULD be.
What should you reuse?
- Content (unless outdated) is always reusable. Ideally, you should repurpose your content in your newsletter, your blog, social media and other outlets.
- Product photos (if your products haven’t changed)
Quick tip – shoot photos on a white background rather than a busy backdrop – that way, the photos can be used in any type of design.
What should you redo? – Ingredients for a successful modern site:
1. Get a fully fledged web host
While free hosted services like Wix can get you up and running, when you’re ready to upgrade, it can be a nightmare — and you won’t have the functionality and control you might need. Further, many do-it-yourself systems aren’t cross-browser compatible or optimized for mobile devices. This means that the site you create on your computer may not look the same (or even work!) on someone else’s computer or device.
2. Find a way to easily update and manage your website
I’m a huge fan of WordPress for smaller companies and sites (it’s free, open-source and has a fantastic supportive development community). Other CMS systems such as Expression Engine may be more appropriate for different companies and projects.
Trust me when I say your web designer doesn’t want to do text updates like we did in 1998- we want you to be free to update and manage your site at any time!
Genesis WordPress Theme from studiopress – a great premium theme for creating your custom website.
3. Create new imagery
Still sporting your high-school yearbook photo on your about page? Unless you’re currently 18, it’s time to let it go. Find a great photographer, splurge on hair and makeup and get yourself online!