To Re-skin or to Re-build? That is a question

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 To Reskin or Rebuild?  That is a question.

We receive so many enquiries from clients asking for a “new website”.  Most of the time they don’t need one they just need a new front end.  The back end is usually fine. These are my thoughts on whether clients should rebuild or reskin.

By now most companies are on to their  5th, 6th, 7th generation website.

The natural process was usually “We don’t like our site anymore – let’s get a new one”.  This usually involved going to a new web agency.

There were often good reasons for this in that technology had moved on and there were usually better ways of doing things. But it was a complete fag for the client as they would have to re-input all their product data, migrate their customer data, learn a new e-commerce or CMS package, go through the whole pitch process and get to know a new agency.

And then there was the expense of rebuilding from scratch eact time.

Nowadays (2013) now that technology is reasonably stable and that most clients have stabilised their data requirements I find that there is really  often no need to change the underlying platform on which a site has been built.  Unless you’ve been unfortunate enough to end up with a real stinker of a CMS or E-commerce platform then I would suggest that re-skinning of a website is often the way to go rather than rebuilding from scratch.

Even if you are fed up with your development agency you can still get a separate agency to do the designs for you.  The two processes do not necessarily need to be done by the same agency, though it’s better to get a web designer rather than a print designer to generate any new designs for your website..

You may be thinking that you need a lot of extra functionality in your new website.  Well again, unless your current development team are hopeless then it should be easily possible to add any required functionality to an existing platform.

The same goes for getting a responsive website.  You do not need to rebuild your underlying platform just to develop a responsive website.

In fact the platform is becoming less and less of an importance as they are all pretty good and have their pros and cons. Magento is great for some types of e-commerce site.  Wordpress is pretty fantastic for any sort of simple CMS and there are loads more.  At Datadial we have developed our own e-commerce and CMS software and they are more than capable of doing whatever is required.

What about search engines?

What remains more important than ever is the site architecture and content structure in terms of ensuring usability and search engine friendliness.  This can sometimes require a rethink of the underlying data structure and in the event that the current data architecture is so poorly thought out then this would be the point at which you may want to redesign rather than reskin. However, pretty your website is, if it’s poorly architected then it is unlikely to perform in search engines.