Why rebuilding your ExpressionEngine website isn’t the answer

Recently, I’ve spoken to a number of people who are considering whether to rebuild their ExpressionEngine website. Whilst there isn’t a one size fits all answer, I wanted to explore why a rebuild isn’t always the answer.

I’ve written this article primarily about ExpressionEngine websites, as it seems to be a common theme at the moment, and hey, ExpressionEngine is my jam - In reality these principles can apply to most sites out there.

My usual workflow for writing blog articles is to start with some research on Google - Unsurprisingly, my search results page was littered with titles such as ‘how often should I rebuild my website’ or ‘why your website needs to be rebuilt’ - I'd attribute that to most web agencies having a vested interest in selling new website every couple years, after all it’s how they pay their bills.

Now, by no means am I saying that there is never a good reason to completely redesign and rebuild your website - Rather than exploring all the options, the de facto solution web agencies provide to most situations is to rebuild the site to fulfills their business model, rather than helping helping you reach yours.

So here are my reasons why you don’t need to rebuild your ExpressionEngine website:

90% of your website is working just fine

Chances are more than likely that 90% of your website is working perfectly fine and doesn’t need to be rebuilt - The fact you are generating any leads is testament to this. So is it worth throwing away 90% in order to fix the remaining 10%. Magnified by the reality that the majority of web agencies don’t identify the 10% that isn’t working for you, means you may not be in a better position than you are with your old site.

I suggest focussing on the 10% that isn’t working and identifying ways to fix this.

Our competitor’s website is shinier than ours

When you first had your site built, you were proud at how great it looks - But then your closest competitor recently rebuilt their site and now it looks better than yours? It’s a natural human response to feel envy. I believe this comes from an unfounded assumption that your competitor rebuilt their site because they are doing much better than you are and knew something you didn’t - In reality, the real reason they’ve rebuilt their site is because it wasn’t performing well and who’s to say their new site will.

The truth is most design agencies build sites to look good. Unfortunately, looks alone won't grow your business and generate more leads.

Take a look at some of the most successful sites; Amazon, Facebook, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Reddit - These companies have forsaken flashy design trends, in search of creating the ultimate user experience and conversion driven design.

Time and energy

The allure of a new shiny website can be an all-encompassing solution during a meeting, especially when the MD gets the bit between his teeth. But inside, there’s a dread - It will be you devoting all your time to a web project that can take months, on top of your already busy day. And what happens if the new build doesn’t produce the desired results, it’s your head on the block.

The threat of long hours, increased workload and accountability for the success of the project suddenly make incremental improvements to your ExpressionEngine website seem like the most logical step.

Return on investment

OK, you’ve taken the plunge and rebuilt your site. It looks great, but does it generate more leads? Let’s be optimistic, eureka! You’ve received more leads than usual after launching - You want to capitalize on this but can you pinpoint which change resulted in the increased conversions and is it scalable? How long will it take to recoup the money spent on the new website. What new problems will you uncover?

So what’s the alternative

Incremental improvements to your ExpressionEngine site allow you to conduct isolated changes quickly (think of them as experiments), measuring their individual effectiveness. The benefits of this are:

  • Immediate Feedback - Find out what works (and what doesn’t) immediately rather than investing four months into a new site only to find out its performance is worse
  • Lower delivery cost - Each incremental change will cost a fraction of a new build with the added advantage of immediate return on investment.
  • Small incremental changes massively reduce stress levels - Forget the long hours, and juggling marketing budgets.
  • Reduced risk - What happens if the new site doesn’t produce an increase in results? You’re back to square one, with a huge chunk of your marketing budget gone. If a small incremental change has a negative effect, we can quickly rollback, mitigating the financial risk of a full rebuild

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