Business websites are a lot like homes. We devote a considerable amount of thought, time, and effort to building or buying the perfect one. And moments after we settle in, we notice imperfections we’d really like to change.

It would be nice to have a mudroom. Is there a way we could move the kitchen sink to the island? Depending upon our budget and available time, we either pursue the upgrades or mentally plan to tackle them down the road.

Similarly, no sooner do we excitedly launch that new website than people start calling attention to what it lacks. It’s hard to find information about Model XPJ38. Should we think about adding an FAQ page? Once again, depending upon our budget and available time, we either pursue the upgrades or mentally plan to tackle them down the road.

Some home improvements are simple. But others lead us to take a longer look and wonder whether we wouldn’t be better off if we just built a new house. Instead of an incremental approach to our goals, starting from scratch would allow us to achieve them all at once.

The same is true of websites. The typical reaction to addressing perceived shortfalls is to fix something here, add something there, and maybe swap out a photo or two on those pages. That’s exactly what happens with most websites. It works, but over time something begins to happen. Like a house with poorly planned additions, the site begins to look a little ramshackle. This page looks different than the others, or the navigation isn’t as good as it should be.

No matter how frustrated they may become, most homeowners are reluctant to abandon what they have and build something new because they know it will be costly and take more time and effort than they’re willing to devote. And most companies would rather try to keep repairing and upgrading their existing websites than starting fresh.

Within the business context, the remodel-or-rebuild dilemma becomes more pronounced as key aspects of the company change. Maybe you just rolled out a new product line you hope represents the company’s future. Perhaps you just acquired another firm and are working hard to integrate their culture and what they do into your operations. Sure, you can tack on a few new pages, but that all too often starts to resemble a house with an unfortunate addition – the kind that makes you wonder what the owners were thinking.

One of the nicest things about websites is the fact they’re not physical. If you’re dissatisfied with your company’s office building, you can make renovations, but that’s likely to be expensive, complicated, and disruptive. Because a website is digital, it’s just a matter of creating fresh content, design, and code. In fact, you can do all of that without disrupting the functionality of your current website. A savvy marketing partner will do all the work in a development site inaccessible to the outside world. Once the new site has received your thumbs-up, it’s a fairly simple matter of swapping out the site you already have.

Is replacing your existing website a better decision than remodeling what you have? Just as with home renovation, decisions are required to some serious questions. What about your current site isn’t working as well as you hoped? How have your company and marketplace changed since it was developed? What features would you like to add (or remove)? Does your site include out-of-date information or discontinued products and services? And just as important, how adept has your marketing partner been at making changes?

There may be other reasons for starting from scratch you may not have considered. The software behind your current system may be hopelessly out-of-date, forcing your IT team or vendor to develop workarounds anytime you want to change something. Your current site may still be optimized for wide-screen monitors, making it a nightmare to navigate from a phone. It may not reflect current accessibility standards for users who have disabilities.

If you were thinking about tackling a major renovation project at your home, you’d probably begin by having a conversation with a trusted contractor. You’d explain the reasons for your project and detail what you have in mind. A good contractor would consider what you want to accomplish and maybe even offer better ideas you hadn’t considered or point out roadblocks that demand consideration of an alternate approach.

The right marketing partner will help you do the same, listening to your goals and helping you understand the best ways to accomplish them. You might decide a tweak here and there will accomplish what you’re after, or you just might decide it makes more sense to start from the beginning. Either way, you’ll have the expert advice you need.

Deborah Daily is co-owner of Buckaroo Marketing | New Media, a Fishers-based advertising agency established in 1999. She can be reached at dldaily@gobuckaroo.com.

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