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Webbed Feet UK, web developers in Salisbury, Wiltshire

At what point do you need to replace your website rather than update it?

This is a tough question, mainly because websites come in all shapes and sizes, and vary hugely in complexity. If you have a small brochure site then updating it is going to be far more affordable than a custom-built online shop that integrates with various other platforms.

It’s best to look at reasons for updating vs replacement, and take it from there…


Fashion doesn’t only apply to clothes, it applies to cars, interior design, and of course websites. As with other types of fashion, it will age at different rates depending on different factors. A website for a ‘trendy’ modern startup will likely need to be redesigned sooner than a website for a general builder.

Of course, the web agency can design some form of redundancy in to the design by keeping the design behind cutting-edge, and using tried and trusted techniques, but they’ll only work so far.

Over time the trends will change, think of menus; a decade or so ago there were buttons on the left-hand side of the screen, then a menu from the top (still used today) and now modern sites have what looks like a hamburger (three horizontal lines). Menus have evolved due to the increasing use of mobile phones for browsing websites.

Depending on a few factors, such as the underlying framework, and the amount that needs to be changed, it is often possible to give many websites a facelift, which is an interim update considered as perhaps a lick of paint, or a semi redesign.


Content can usually be updated fairly easily, and where space for new content doesn’t exist a web agency can often add systems for case studies, blog articles, or landing pages, and adapt the menu to accommodate them. These, again, depend on the underlying system but mean that pages and content can be added both for users, and search engines (SEO).

The issue arrives when a website evolves along with a business to such a stage that the whole structure changes. There is a point where it is more efficient to start again and relook at the overall structure from the ground up.

When businesses get to this stage it is often after several years because they have evolved and expanded beyond their expectations at the start of the project, so having a fresh look at the site is often beneficial anyway as the target demographic may have changed as well.

Technological advancements & user expectations

Technology is changing rapidly, just consider the vast progress that artificial intelligence has made in the last six months. Think of the speed at which search engines change their algorithms, what social media sites are trending, and recent integrations with mobile phones and payment methods.

Cutting-edge sites are more affected, and are often pushed to upgrade because of the way that their competitors do things. Consider two online shops, one allows you to pay only by credit card, and another allows you to use PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay.

This isn’t driven by the technology itself, but using modern technology to adapt to user behaviour. Users want to find what they are looking for quicker and easier than ever, they want fast loading pages, want to be able to filter products and swipe between options, want one-click purchasing, and want it all to work seamlessly on any device.

Taking things back a few years, who, these days, will navigate websites on their mobile that are not mobile-optimised?

This is tricky for web agencies to predict, and often manifests as a website not working as well as it used to, rather than it being apparently broken.


I’ve talked before about technical debt, which is best explained with an analogy. If you don’t maintain or service your car there will become a time when the mechanics sucks air through their teeth, and tells you the repair bill will cost more than what the car is worth; all of the little niggles add up, magnify, and start causing issues.

This is just as true for websites than it is for cars, especially those on open source platforms such as WordPress , Joomla and Magento. These all need updating regularly, and rely on themes, modules and plugins that also need updating. Furthermore, these websites sit on top of another system(s) that updates, and they may also integrate with 3rd party systems that, you guessed it, update. They are all viewed through web browsers which now often automatically update, and these browsers run on operating systems, that update. You only need one of these updates to not be compatible with another update and you start getting issues.

The trick here is to keep on top of it, yes, the updates will need to be done, but doing them little by little is good practice, spreads the costs, and allows a web agency to suggest alternatives along the way, alternatives that may help with technological advancements as mentioned above.

So why not leave the website and not update it? Well, many people do this, and it can be fine for many years, but this is burying your head in the sand. A time will come where the system will stop working due to a 3rd party upgrade or of course there are security implications, especially with older software being EOL (end of life) and not supported.

Many of these updates have a security fix meaning that without updates they are prone to being hacked, and if that happens, the site owner suddenly has a much larger issue on their hands.

As technology evolves, websites need to be updated.

Performance and growth

After talking about the negatives of having to update software, follows the best reason to upgrade a website, which is where the company has grown to such a point that the old one no longer suffices.

This is often due to the traffic increase due to more users or sales, where the old site runs slowly, or just isn’t as efficient as it was.

Also, the business itself may have grown in to other avenues and need a whole section added in order to push forward.

These are great times for web agencies as we know that are clients are successful, and/or about to have a growth spurt, so we can see what has worked best so far, and formulate a strategy to move forwards.

It’s easy for a client to spend money improving a website when they know they’ll get it back in spades, and have seen this happen before!

So, what about your site?

Our advice would be to get your web agency to look over it periodically, perhaps an annual chat where you ask them if your website is up to modern standards and to give it a once-over. They’d be happy to tell you how to spend your money, and should give truthful feedback about what is a nice-to-have compared to what is almost essential. Quite often there are cheap touch ups that can make a big difference.

How we can help

Of course, even if we’re not currently your web agency, we’re happy to look at, and take on the majority of projects built by others.

We’d love to give your site a once-over and make suggestions about what can be improved, or answer the difficult question of whether you can improve it with updates, or whether you should start fresh.

If you're interested, please get in touch.


We are Webbed Feet, we can update websites as well as rebuild them

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