Fix or Replace Your Website?

fix or repair website

If you know me, you know I provide written content for my clients.  That's the majority of my work, but since I'm a marketing geek, I'm always helping clients navigate other things, too.  Plus, I'm lead writer for the Mosaic Marketing Solutions team, so I've worked on many project "pieces" along the way!

While I still consider your message one of the most important parts of your marketing, there are different options for showcasing your message.

There's a lot to choose from in marketing, and it can be overwhelming.  But there's always what's best for YOUR situation and what might generate the most impact for your business.

So when I began sending out a monthly newsletter for Cannizzaro Integrative Pediatric Center, the topic of "what to do" with the website came up.  I know enough to be dangerous on the administrative end of a website.  Luckily, I have expert resources to consult.  It was a legitimate question, so I spent time weighing the pros and the cons with Dr. Cannizzaro's team.

fix or repair website

AFTER - Click to Visit the Site!

Screenshot CIPC before home







First Impression of Your Website

You have precious seconds to make a good first impression with your website.  Your visitor must know instantly that she’s on a website that looks like it contains the information she’s looking for.

First, evaluate your website design.  Have you made changes to your logo or company colors that are not reflected on your site yet?  Do you have old specials or package deals, or my favorite, summer specials in December?  Is your phone number easy to find?  Are your contact forms simple to fill out?

In CIPC’s case, the phone number didn’t stand out at the top of the site where most people would look for it.  There were not contact forms on each page for people who prefer to email a question.  The button to sign up for their monthly newsletter (created using code from Constant Contact) functioned, but was not pretty to look at.  Were these good enough reasons to replace the site?  Maybe not by themselves, but that’s 3 critical areas on the list so far.  On to more things we considered.


How Your Website Looks and Functions

Does your website look as modern as you want it to?  Templates change plenty in a couple of years.  On the outside, they have moved away from a boxy look to sleeker, more graphic-driven designs.  Banners span the width of the pages, especially the Home page.  Your main Blog entries page can show up in myriad of ways, from a “tiled” look to full photos as well.

Template capabilities on the “back end” or in your administrative panel also get old.  Your site might load slowly if outdated plug-ins are installed.  Depending on how old your template is, it might not be enough to just update the plug-ins.  Here’s a good question to ask:  If anything goes wrong, are you able to get help from the template developer?  If the developers for your template have moved on to newer things, so should you.  If your template is that old, your site is an official “money pit” that will cost more to maintain than replace.   Besides, you’re probably missing out on the newest capabilities that just won’t work with an outdated template.

In CIPC’s case, the template had a boxy quality to it.  The design definitely appeared dated, even though it was only a few years old.  The Blog had a few stylistic and functional problems.  This was a sticking point for me personally, since I was loading new articles each month.  Providing information to patients is one of CIPC’s top priorities, so we wanted this process to be easy and the articles presented well.  Both templates required buying better quality stock photography because the featured Blog images were large.  Clear, vibrant pictures look much better (and the extra dollars are better spent) when they appear within a polished website design.


Your Website Template’s Capabilities

Last Spring, Google announced that all websites must be “responsive” or face demotion in their search engine ranking.  This means the site automatically adjusts based on the device used:  desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone.  I will break it to you right here.  If your template is not responsive, you need to replace your site.  If you’re not sure, go here to Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, which will tell you.

CIPC’s site was responsive, but I wasn’t fond of the way the practitioners were showcased in their original template.  Your About Us page is the 2nd most read page on your site, and in a medical practice, a crucial element used to establish trust and rapport with prospective patients.  I also wanted to add patient testimonials to the home page, a feature CIPC’s original website template did not have.  I already mentioned the Blog limitations.  The multipying issues of keeping the old site were beginning to make a new one look like a more efficient and economical choice.


The Final Decision:  Fix or Replace Your Website?

You may not have to replace your entire site just to fix the things I mentioned.  However, if you “hack” at all the pieces you want to change, your site could look “cobbled” together when you’re done.  It might be better to use a template that already includes the features you want, or have a custom website designed for you.

For each of my clients that questioned whether to fix or replace a website, I always:

  • Evaluate the design of the template for user-friendliness and attractiveness.
  • Decide what changes are needed based on the client's marketing goals and how their website will be used to help accomplish them.
  • Get an expert programmer/website designer to evaluate the site on the design and administrative end and tell me what it will take to execute the changes.

From there, I determine whether the time and expense needed to improve and maintain an old site could be better used on replacing the site.  A good website hacker can do almost anything you want with your old template, but will it be worth it?  And how many times will you have to pay to fix things that are broken or to upgrade outdated features?  A custom or semi-custom site using the skills of both a developer and designer can represent your company more accurately than a template, which is somewhat limited, as we've discussed.  Either way you go, a new site will have less to adjust. Your web master's time could be better used to suggest and implement additional functionality or neat extras that your marketing team would love to take advantage of.

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