You need a new website… or do you? Before you make the decision to tear up your existing site and start from fresh, you need to think very carefully about the outcome. Unless you know what success means, you won’t know whether your outcome delivers the goods.

Do I really need a new website?

Picture this. You race off to get a new site design or prepare to embrace some snazzy new technology. Then you have to backtrack and apply SEO and marketing strategy later. Strategy has to come first every time otherwise you risk redesigning a site that doesn’t need redesigning, or designing it in completely the wrong way.

Before you make a decision about whether or not you need a brand new site, ask yourself and your team what they want out of it and why it’s important. Is it to boost your company’s credibility, generate new leads, encourage more visitors, build on or realign your brand, sell more goods or services, change tack or simply update an old-school site to something more contemporary-looking? Or is it more of a whim?

Without goals and a strategy no new website can succeed, if only because you don’t know what success looks like. Building from fresh without a good business reason can be an expensive mistake, costing you good money for no good commercial reason.

Once you’ve hammered out the reasoning behind the need for a new website you can set clear, achievable goals and align the web design strategy properly with those goals. Here’s some useful advice to help you get things straight, in the form of some basic questions to ask yourself before making a decision.

Are you 100% clear who your target audience is?

Every good marketer puts their target audience and their needs first. Think about what supports your audience in their desire to buy, donate, contact you, visit your premises, book an appointment, contact you or engage with you in some other way? If you ignore your audience’s needs and desires, your new website won’t do what you want it to, while your existing site might already be doing a great job of it.

Too many companies create websites that are aimed squarely at others in their industry as opposed to their prospects and customers, putting ego before business sense to disastrous effect. Do you want to impress others in your sector or engage with your customers? Do you want to re-do your website in line with what someone else in your industry has done? If so, why? If you want to please your competitors, fair enough. Go ahead and try to keep up with the Joneses. Otherwise the end customer should always come first, no exceptions.

If your audience’s needs, desires and expectations mean you really do need a new website, fair enough. But check your thinking first.

Is your existing website already doing a great job?

Just because a website looks tired, it doesn’t mean it isn’t doing a great job. You might be bored stiff of looking at it but your visitors might find it perfectly functional, good to look at, clear and easy to use.

How do you find out? It’s no good being subjective. You need to be businesslike and stick to the facts. Check your site performance data to establish what’s working on the current site and what could work better. The chances are that some things are working perfectly and others could stand improvement.

If you work on instinct, you risk ending up making things worse, with new features detrimental to the site’s performance as a whole. Knowledge really is power.

Do you have grand plans but an unrealistic budget?

No designer worth their salt will agree to design a mega-structure of an all-singing, all-dancing website for a tenner. Your budget has to match your expectations, or at least come close.

How do you know what’s essential and what’s going overboard? It helps to jot down every single functionality you can think of then work backwards to create a sensible brief that stands a chance of coming in on budget. Then you’ve done all the necessary compromising up front instead of running into difficulties later.

It can be challenging if you’re not a web designer or a digital marketer. Unless you know how to carry out a web design prioritisation exercise in a businesslike fashion, seeing the wood for the trees dispassionately, get your website designer to help you work through your ideas. They’ll know how to weed out any unnecessary or unrealistic ideas and ensure your budget is enough to cover the work.

Is your current site content fine as it is?

There’s no need to reinvent the wheel… or at least not every time. You might not need a complete rewrite. Your existing content might just need a light edit, re-arranging or re-formatting. How do you tell? It makes a lot of sense to consult your web design team, who will get a professional copywriter on the case to provide sensible advice.

Have you involved marketers in the decision process?

We’ve seen it before. A business has big plans. They hold important, high level meetings with MDs and CEOs. But they forget it’s a marketing matter. You need a professional marketer at the centre of the decision making process, stashing your ego and acknowledging the need for specialist expertise.

Your digital marketing pro might advise you to go for a brand new website, built from scratch. But they’re just as likely to suggest tweaks, additions, removals, updates and innovations to your existing site. It’s your job to know when to delegate important marketing decisions to marketers.

This often happens when the final decision is left to a Hippo – AKA the highest paid person in the room. When the boss insists on being in charge of a marketing project, alarm bells should ring.

Unless they’re an ex-marketer, a CEO, MD or Partner won’t know their marketing onions. They are not qualified to micro-manage a web build project. They don’t understand the data or technology, let alone the ins and outs of web design, on-site SEO, direct response marketing… in short, never let the boss decide whether or not a new website is what the business needs!

Our best advice? Ask us to help you make the decision

You have a feeling you might need a website redesign, chucking everything away and starting from scratch. Instead of going ahead blindly and spending your way into a hole for no good reason, why not ask the experts?

As web design pros we’ll tell you exactly what we think, bringing all our experience to bear to give you the best advice and recommendations to suit your pocket, save your sanity and genuinely benefit the business.