If your website is underperforming, off-brand, or simply doesn’t meet industry standards, you’ll benefit from planning a website refresh or redesign. While the terms “refresh” and “redesign” are sometimes used interchangeably, they don’t mean the same thing in this context.
It’s important to understand which approach best suits your business model, goals, budget, and branding. Misjudging your needs can heavily impact your business’s performance. When you redesign a website that only needs a refresh, you waste a lot of resources and risk losing loyal visitors. On the other hand, refreshing a website that’s due for redesigning won’t solve all of its problems.
This article will help you understand the difference between a full redesign and a website refresh, the benefits of modernizing your web design, and key steps to take if you want to update your site’s functionality and appearance.
What is the difference between a website redesign and a refresh?
Website redesigns involve changing the overall structure and basic elements — essentially a complete overhaul of the site. In a website redesign, you’re effecting a new design across the site, complete with updated functionalities and optimizations for improved conversions. Some elements may remain constant, such as the domain name and content management system (CMS) used for the original design.
On the other hand, a website refresh is like “redecorating” or “re-arranging stuff.” There are no major changes involved, just a few touch-ups to give the website a fresh look with up-to-date features. Think of it like applying a new coat of paint on an existing house — it’s still the same house with the same number of rooms, but now it looks and feels much better.
So how do you decide between a website refresh or redesign? When does it make sense to opt for one over the other? Here are the three factors to consider to help you make an informed choice:
Scope simply refers to how much work is involved in the project. The scope of the redesign process is generally much larger than a website refresh.
In a redesign, you’re going back to the drawing board and implementing sweeping changes that make a big difference in the website’s code, content structure, and navigation. This can also include adding new relevant pages or features, such as a blog section to improve the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) qualities of the site.
In a website refresh, you generally only change elements related to visual appearance. Maybe you want to make your website more appealing to potential customers or update the look and feel of the site to match your brand image — a website refresh is all you need.
Because it involves less work, a refresh is generally more cost-effective than a full website redesign. Website refreshes only involve updates on the website’s assets, which doesn’t require specialization, unlike website redesigns. When redesigning a website, you will usually need input from different experts — SEO, content, UI/UX, etc. — so be prepared to spend more.
You can either hire a web design company or freelancers who are experts in building websites. If you’re going with a web design company, they will often offer website design packages to suit your budget. But if you hire individuals, you’ll be mainly paying hourly.
Regardless, either option would cost money, so you may want to classify your website refresh or redesign as a business investment.
You can expect a website redesign to take more time than a refresh of your current site. A website refresh project can take just a couple of hours or even minutes, depending on the scope. Your website may even remain live during a refresh. For example, B12 sites come with various theme, font, and palette options and you don’t have to take down the site to effect a minor change.
During a website redesign, you may need to take your website offline and flash the “under construction” sign on the homepage. Again, the actual time spent will depend on several factors, including the amount of work involved and whether it’s done by a web design team or a single freelancer.
Which is right for your business?
Only you can answer that based on your budget for the project, the time you have to complete it, and the scope that’s manageable. But generally speaking, a refresh might be the most realistic start.
Overhauling your website can severely impact your business and drive previously engaged users to your competitors if it backfires. And just because it’s considered lower risk to refresh your website rather than redesign it, doesn’t mean there aren’t potential rewards.
5 benefits of a website refresh
Choosing to refresh your website over a redesign comes with many benefits, including:
1. More appealing, modern design
The website’s overall design affects the user experience. So theoretically, a refreshed website design can attract more visitors.
When changing the website’s design, focus on letting the site’s key elements stand out. These include the logo, content, colors, mobile friendliness, and other factors that determine website conversions.
2. Increased conversion rates
Struggling with low conversions? Refreshing your website design can be a great way to get out of the rut and make your business more appealing to search engines and users. A cleaner design, with higher quality photos and more concise calls to action can reduce bounce rate and keep visitors on your site, moving toward the next step.
3. More effective messaging
Website content without purpose is a waste of space. Every web page, blog post, or article on your website must provide relevant information. If it doesn’t, you can conduct a quick website refresh to ensure that your website content is effective.
To do that, you must first consider who’s reading it. Who is your audience? Are they familiar with your industry or new to it? Are they business owners, executives, or administrators? What is your audience’s profile and demographic? Knowing your audience is a crucial step in effective messaging. When you’ve figured out exactly who your website is addressing, it will be easier to remove ineffective content and replace it with more engaging content that drives action.
4. Improved lead generation
Refreshing your website can help boost lead generation because it makes the site more attractive and relevant to your target audience. The idea is to provide different ways to keep prospects engaged and within the sales funnel by providing them with an intuitive website they can easily navigate. Depending on your website solution, it may also be easy to add a lead form that passively collects data on your behalf.
5. Lower bounce rate
The bounce rate is a critical KPI in digital marketing because it measures how many website visitors land on a web page and leave almost immediately without clicking a link or otherwise engaging with the content.
One of the reasons behind a high bounce rate is if the website is poorly designed and prospects can’t find what they’re looking for in a short time. With a website refresh, you can lower your bounce rates by tweaking certain aspects of the website to ensure a better overall user experience.
6 ways to refresh your web presence
Here are some things you can do to give your website a glow-up:
1. Adjust your color scheme
In color theory, matching colors transcend beyond its aesthetic value. Colors also depict feelings and emotions with different interpretations in every person. Your website’s colors contribute to the brand image you want to portray. In choosing color schemes, you can go for the following:
- Monochromatic - one color but in different shades and tints.
- Analogous - three colors that are located beside one another in the color wheel, like yellow, yellow-green, and green.
- Complementary - two colors that are opposites in the color wheel, like red and green.
- Triadic - three evenly spaced colors that form a triangle pattern in the color wheel often (e.g., orange, green, and purple).
2. Conduct a content audit
If your website’s design is refined but still underperforming, the content might be the problem. A content audit can reveal underlying issues why customers aren’t finding your products and services useful.
Auditing content involves looking at the numbers (e.g., page views, search visibility, click-through rates). Then, you have to assess the quality of the content itself by asking the following questions:
- What are the current goals of the content audit?
- What goals have been achieved since the last content audit?
- What are the improvements after implementing the previous audit’s findings?
- What is the SEO ranking of the website?
- What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?
- What are the recommendations to address the weaknesses and threats?
- How can the website sustain its strengths and grab more opportunities?
3. Implement responsive design
Your website must adjust to the device where it’s being viewed. Today, people use different kinds of devices to access the internet. Don’t expect people to always use their desktops or laptops. In fact, more than 58% of web traffic comes from mobile phones. The website must be able to adapt and retain its functionality whether it’s viewed using a phone, tablet, or desktop.
4. Use more modern typography
Typography evokes emotion and character in portraying your branding. However, not all typefaces are responsive to all kinds of uses. For example, sans serif typefaces are more suitable for body text on most websites since they look more modern than serif typefaces.
On the flip side, serif typefaces often evoke professionalism and class, while sans serif typefaces look more casual and friendly. There’s no hard-and-fast rule in typography. It’s all about finding the best match that resonates with your audience.
5. Replace stock photos
If your website’s content uses free stock photos, you have to be very careful about finding ones that feel less generic and more specific to your business. There’s a chance that other websites use these images, making your site lose originality. During your website refresh, it would be a good idea to use as many unique images and graphics as you can, to help your site stand out.
6. Upgrade any outdated technology
Any outdated feature or functionality on your website has got to go. This includes plugins, extensions, payment processors, forms, and more. Today’s online users want to interact with a website that is not only secure but also super convenient, and it’s your responsibility to make sure the technology employed on your business website delivers those qualities seamlessly.
Try B12 for your website refresh or redesign
At B12, we do website redesigns and refreshes every day for our professional services customers. Each project is personalized to your goals, clients’ needs, and your unique brand perspective. Our team of designers can help you determine if a redesign or refresh is your best option, then manage the project for you, offering you as much control as you’d like along the way. We can make quick changes or a substantive overhaul faster than an agency and at a more affordable rate.
In this case study about one of our law firm customers looking to improve their website, the main challenge was converting a placeholder website to a multifunctional site. The existing website didn’t reflect the tech-savvy, modern practice because it didn’t offer visitors value-adding elements, like integrations.
To redesign their site, the firm used B12’s AI-powered technology and collaborated with designers, copywriters, and SEO specialists. Our experts modernized the design as needed to match industry standards and got it ready to launch within 30 days. As a result, the firm’s website experienced a massive leap in organic search rankings and a more on-brand web presence.
B12 designers are always available to update your website or you can make quick changes yourself using the B12 website editor.
An up-to-date website is crucial
Updating a website is a commitment that every website owner needs to make. Search engines and design trends change over time. If you don’t respond to these changes, your website will likely lose relevance over time. So whether it’s a full redesign or a smaller scale refresh, make sure your business website design is up to date.
In any case, B12 is here to provide all the expert help you need. Sign up today to experience a better way to run your business online.