Why you don’t really want a website “refresh”

One of the common messages we get from potential new clients is “I need to refresh my website.” Refresh is the key word here—and it makes me ask more questions.

This can mean a few things:

  1. I need to change or add some content.
  2. My colors/fonts/photography isn’t working for me anymore.
  3. My website goals have changed.

The first one, adding or changing content, that’s not a big deal! 

That’s totally doable by most website owners using reasonable platforms (or a pro, if you’re not feeling it). Content changes are often far less of a biggie than people think it will be.

The second, that’s probably closer to what people think of as a “refresh.”

This often involves what we would call a “rebrand” at some level. It is possible to make this kind of change without altering a website’s core, but very few people are able to do so (because the design changes usually were for a reason related to my next point).

I speak from personal experience: I planned on simply updating my brand, typography and colors when I rebranded SM&Co, and it got very slippery very quickly and I restructured large portions of my website, updated pricing, changed some important information, you get the picture. It was, in its essence, a redesign when I got done.

Changing goals is the number one reason people reach out for a “refresh” and yet, the vast majority of the time, that’s not something that’s articulated.

Very few people sit down and say,

By golly, I think my website goals are no longer serving my business objectives!

(said no one ever)

This just isn’t how we think. Instead we may think, “My website doesn’t feel right,” or “It’s just not working for me anymore,” or “I dread logging into my website because there’s so much I need to tackle.” It’s more a gut instinct than anything.

And that’s why I generally encourage people to set aside the notion that they “just need a refresh” and think strategically about what’s working, what’s not, and what steps they’ll need to take to tie it all together. Because I am a systems person, I usually do a quickie SWOT analysis to help them dive into this question:

SWOT Analysis

When we look at the issues with a 360° view like this, what we usually land on is that a refresh makes little sense and would simply be a bandaid approach. 

Instead, a strategic rethink is what needs to happen—yes, like my own website—and that means an actual redesign.

I’ve learned so many lessons from my rebrand and I’ve been enjoying sharing those lessons with you lovely people! I hope you can take some of my experiences and adapt them to your own situations.

What do you think? Does a “refresh” sound good to you or is a redesign the real solution you need?

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