Website Redesign vs. Refresh vs. Replatform: What’s the Difference? Skip to content

Website Refresh vs. Redesign vs. Replatform: What’s the Difference?

Your website is your business’s digital home, and these days, everyone has one. In fact, there are almost 2 billion websites hanging around the internet, pulling in nearly 13 trillion hours of time spent online. And of course, search engines are looking for specific criteria as they “crawl” the internet, cataloging and indexing pages and topics. 

It comes as no surprise then that business owners might stress over making sure that their website is in top shape and represents their brand image and messaging, at all times.

But if your website needs a little love, it’s hard to determine if it just needs a refresh, replatform, or a redesign. As every business is unique, there are a lot of considerations for each approach, and that’s what we’re here to help you with.

Let’s dig in!

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Website Redesign vs. Refresh vs. Replatform

There are three main options when it comes to improving your website: redesign, refresh, and replatform. But you might be looking at your website and wondering which one will check all the points on your need-list. 

Here, we will outline what each approach looks like, pros and considerations, and when you might consider each for your business.

What is a Full Website Redesign?

A website redesign is just what it sounds like: a fully redesigned website with new architecture, copy, aesthetics and sometimes a new underlying platform or plugins. It’s essentially a rebuild from the ground up. 

A full website redesign changes the way Google indexes and categorizes your webpages, which will ideally result in new leads and ultimately, conversions. It could also mean switching to a different platform (i.e. from Squarespace to WordPress) or moving from a static design to a dynamic, responsive website.

A full website redesign is a big undertaking, and one that a lot of business owners might struggle to do themselves. Since the entirety of your website is changing, right down to the basic structure, this can take a lot of time and effort. It also requires a wide variety of skill sets, such as copywriting, design and development knowledge.

The important thing to keep in mind is that, when done right, a website redesign will modernize the functionality, design and performance of the website.

When Do You Need a Full Website Redesign?

If you find your website is more than 3 years old, isn’t working towards your business goals, you have high bounce rates and low conversions, or your website is slow or unresponsive, it’s probably time to give it a redesign. 

A website redesign can also be required when:

  • Your website’s design is outdated
  • Your website isn’t mobile-friendly
  • It’s difficult to make updates or add new content
  • The backend is a mess of old pages, plugins and media assets that are bogging down performance or creating vulnerabilities
  • Your business is rebranding

Pros of a Website Redesign

A full website redesign can bring added value to your business. Here are a few pros to undertaking a website redesign. 

  • New features and functionality: An older version of your CMS might not have all the features you need for a growing business. A website redesign can include dynamic elements, online store, accessibility features, and more. This can vastly improve your website’s performance and increase conversions.
  • Saves time and cost in the long-run: Undertaking a full redesign can be more cost-effective in the long run, as opposed to trying to make changes within a website that just isn’t working any more. An outdated CMS and lack of functionality can end up losing you business. A full website redesign will fix this.
  • Improves cybersecurity: At the end of the day, making sure both your assets and your clients’ assets are safe is what’s most important. An outdated website can leave you vulnerable to cyberattacks, which can be costly and even detrimental to the future of your business. A website redesign will address these issues.

Considerations of a Website Design

While a website redesign can offer you vast improvements, it may not be the choice for everyone. Here are a few considerations before you embark on a website redesign.

  • Can take considerable time and resources: It’s no secret that a website redesign takes a lot of time and can be more costly than a simple refresh. A lot of business owners and marketers choose to outsource their website redesign to experts who can make sure that it’s done properly and without any vulnerabilities.
  • Requires efforts to ensure no SEO gains are lost: During the redesign process (and after), it’s important to consider how a refresh will affect SEO. While a new website can improve SEO, you don’t want to lose any gains you had already made in the process. This requires setting up URL redirects, remapping your keywords and checking internal linking. You may want to bring on an expert to help you through this.

What is a Website Refresh?

Compared to a website redesign, a website refresh is a faster option. A website refresh is an update that doesn’t change the overall structure or platform of your website. Sometimes a website refresh is temporary to promote a new product or service, and sometimes it’s to give your design a fresh new look. 

A website refresh can include:

  • Fresh logo
  • New colours
  • New typography
  • Updated graphics or images
  • Copywriting adjustments
  • Minor navigational changes

A website refresh won’t change your website’s content management system (i.e. WordPress, Squarespace, etc.) and you the overall organization of your website will generally remain the same (i.e. navigation menu).

When Do You Need a Website Refresh?

A large part of a website refresh is to stay “fresh” and relevant. A website that is stagnant for too long reflects on how dynamic a company is. And of course, staying dynamic and flexible is crucial to success these days. 

So, when exactly is a website refresh necessary?

Standard practice recommends a website refresh every 2 – 3 years. This gives your website a fresh new look, helps you take an audit of your website content and performance, and gives you the opportunity to address any issues and maximize your website’s performance and SEO. A website refresh can also mean integrating some of the newer technologies.

Pros of a Website Refresh

There are plenty of benefits to a website refresh, and it’s highly recommended that everyone conduct a website refresh every few years, at the minimum. With our fast-paced digital world, doing so more often could be even more beneficial. 

Here are a few of the pros of a website refresh.

  • Cost effective: Of the three choices, a website refresh is usually the most cost effective and can garner the biggest return on investment (ROI). A website refresh doesn’t necessarily mean an overhaul of the website (which is a website redesign). But giving your website a facelift can help in more ways than just aesthetically – it can attract new leads.
  • Ensures your content is up-to-date: A website refresh gives you an opportunity to take an audit of your website content and assess if everything is correct, well-organized, and representative of your brand and voice.
  • Helps improve conversions: Ultimately, the goal of your website is to convert prospects into customers. But an outdated website won’t do that. A website refresh, however, will.
  • Responds to changing audience needs: Maybe your business is evolving or growing. Or maybe you’re offering something new. This is where a website refresh can really benefit. If your website’s content and messaging doesn’t speak to your changing audience, then you may lose out on business.

Considerations of a Website Refresh

Because a website refresh is more limited in its scope, there are some considerations that you should be aware of. 

  • Lack of flexibility: A website refresh is not a full redesign. Because of this, you might run the risk of simply reusing that same building blocks over and over, without really improving on the performance or underlying technology of your website.
  • Can take some technical savvy: A website refresh can still require significant technical work, depending on the extent of refresh. Knowledge in CSS, HTML, and other coding is required. When adding to your existing website, it’s important to make sure that whatever is being updated isn’t affecting other aspects of your website. A website developer can help with this.
  • Only a short-term solution: In the long run, relying only on website refreshes isn’t sustainable. As technology (and cybersecurity) is constantly changing, not regularly redesigning a website can create security vulnerabilities and page load time issues.

What is a Website Replatform?

Website replatforming is when you move your current website contents from its current CMS to a new one. For example, you might be moving your Squarespace website to WordPress. 

Website replatforming isn’t about changing the website’s design or front-facing features per se, but simply shifting the contents in its current form to a new CMS. This can all be done behind the scenes without (much) disruption to your website.

A website can be replatformed at any time, but often it’s done in conjunction with a refresh or redesign.

When Do You Need a Website Replatform?

If you’re looking for a redesign or rebranding, replatforming your website isn’t going to give you what you need. But as we mentioned above, when undertaking a refresh or redesign, you may also want to take a thorough audit of your CMS and determine if it’s giving you the performance you need. 

There are a few reasons you might want to consider replatforming your website:

  • Your bounce rate is increasing
  • You’re getting less traffic to your website
  • Your website load time is longer than 3 seconds
  • Your website is experiencing vulnerabilities or updates are difficult to make
  • You’re frustrated every time you log into the backend of your website

If you’re experiencing any of these issues, you may want to have a deeper look at your CMS.

Pros of a Website Replatform

Depending on which CMS you choose, there are a lot of benefits to replatforming your website. Of course, this also depends on your website needs. More complex websites with dynamic features and customization will do better with a CMS like WordPress. 

  • Enhanced cybersecurity: Cybersecurity is one of the most important aspects to your website, and if you collect personal information or have an ecommerce website, cybersecurity is without a doubt non-negotiable. But some CMSs aren’t suited to all website needs, which means you’ll want to consider your CMS setup carefully.
  • Easier customization: Particularly as a business grows, customization is essential. Some CMSs offer a wider variety of quality plugins and third-party applications, which can make your website run smoother and give you that extra edge on your dynamic website.
  • Improve the user experience (UX): Website UX is crucial. If your website doesn’t offer a pleasant, helpful, and easy-to-navigate interface, your bounce rate will skyrocket. Replatforming can be the solution to this. It can also help with SEO.
  • Make content updates easier: Let’s be honest: some CMSs make it really difficult to update and publish new content. And without a regular cadence of new content in the form of blogs, articles, white papers, and downloadable materials, your website’s SEO will suffer.
  • Financial reasons: Usually when business owners and marketers switch website platforms, there are financial reasons involved. Maybe your old CMS has high subscription fees or perhaps it’s an out-of-the-box solution that doesn’t give you what you need. These are financial difficulties that replatforming your website can help solve.

Considerations of Replatforming a Website

As with any changes to your website, there are a few things to consider when replatforming. Here are a few of them. 

  • Financial reasons: Yep, this is both a benefit and a consideration! When investigating a new CMS, cost is always a consideration. And if a different CMS doesn’t give the bang for your buck that you need, then you may want to pass.
  • Keeping the layout consistent: When switching your CMS, sometimes keeping your website layout can be a challenge and this is something you might want to consider. Alternatively, outsourcing your website replatform to an expert can solve this for you.
  • Plugins and third-party apps: When considering a new CMS, always review the plugins and third-party apps. Some may offer more robust add-ons than others, and can add a deeper layer of customization. But some may not offer what you require.

Things to Keep in Mind When Making Changes to Your Website

Every website has unique needs and when considering updates, make a checklist of what is most important to the operation of your website. 

So, before you start making any changes to your website, here are some things you should keep in mind.

  • Take an audit of your web pages that rank high in SERPs and protect those.
  • Consider your budget and if changes to your website will bring a strong ROI.
  • Determine the life span you need for the next iteration of your website.
  • Ask yourself how dynamic you need your website to be.
  • Assess if you need accessibility features.
  • Reflect on how often you need to update your content.

Work with the Right Website Partner

Your website is your digital home and making sure that it fits all your needs is what’s most important.

Want to give your website the lift it needs? Contact us today to continue this discussion and see how we can help.

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