The Cheeky Monkey Media Blog

A few words from the apes, monkeys, and various primates that make up the Cheeky Monkey Super Squad.

Rebuild vs Maintenance graphic


We have all heard it before…you have to rebuild your website every 2 to 3 years. But, Is this really the right choice for you? In today’s era of websites, it is actually very unlikely that a website rebuild is a right choice. In most cases, many websites just need a little refresh – a task that can be easily managed through ongoing maintenance.

When deciding on the path you are going to go down, here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

The difference between Maintenance vs Rebuild

In many cases, the website may not even need to be rebuilt! Unless the base code is exceptionally outdated (um… was the page built on MS Frontpage? It’s time for a rebuild), or there are significant critical graphical issues, there are few cases where a full rebuild project would make absolute sense. When we think of rebuilding, we get excited about having a fresh and brand-new website, but did you know that this can be done with ongoing maintenance as well?

Owning a website is much more than just building it and leaving it. Websites are a first touch point for users, from marketing campaigns, sales reach out, and in most cases a customer’s first impression of the business. When considering the best course of action, it’s a good idea to examine what could be done through ongoing iteration as opposed to going through a complete (and potentially expensive) rebuild. The best course of action is best to understand what ongoing iterations through maintenance can do for your website vs a complete rebuild.


The Rebuild

As sites age and if not well cared for, there may be a time when maintenance won’t do the trick. So when does rebuilding your website become the right option?

Rebuilding is a daunting task. When a website starts to age, the cost of maintenance can sometimes be overwhelming and no longer worth the investment. The decision to rebuild should include,

  • Moving from one Content Management System (CMS) to another
    • If your current CMS is not the right fit for your business
    • If your current CMS is far outdated/compromised
  • Migration to an updated CMS (for example Drupal 7 to Drupal 9)
  • Complete brand redesign

If the website rebuild is truly only about refreshing your design, rebuilding your entire website may not be the right decision. Taking on a rebuild should be a well-thought-out decision. Consider the ‘why’ before you push forward as rebuilds can often be time-consuming and costly.

There are two key things to remember when you go down the road of rebuilding your website.

  1. Rebuild/Redesigning needs a strategic plan. Without a proper plan in place, rebuilding your website can easily become chaotic and stressful. Don’t rush the process, pick logical timelines and work within your budget. Work with your partner agency to define your audience and website goals.
  2. Properly Budget. Don’t jump into a rebuild without the proper budget. Plan strategically, work within your budget, and know your limitations. If you force your budget to unnecessarily stretch, you can lose the overall end goal of your rebuild, costing more money down the road. If you don’t have a proper budget, it might be worthwhile working within your current CMS to apply a refresh rather than a rebuild.

Knowing when a rebuild is a right decision is a big decision. Ensure you are working with a partner agency that can help you make an informed decision.

Ongoing Iterations – Maintenance

In today’s world, advancements in technology are frequent. It is no longer normal to need to rebuild your website and leave it be. Websites should have a regular maintenance strategy in place to increase their value and ROI. Maintenance allows websites to stay on trend, secure and refreshed without getting into the nitty gritty of a rebuild.

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” is an excellent philosophy, but it requires a proactive plan to ensure that changing technology, design trends, or search engine updates don’t create critical issues down the road. As a website owner, you can’t let your website sit on the back burner. Not maintaining your website, believe it or not, causes a larger loss of revenue, decreased SEO ranking on Google, security risks, and poor user experience. Without care and attention, the intended user experience can become stagnant, or the relevant message not be communicated due to code depreciation.

Websites build a business’s brand through user experience, interactions, and reaching users outside of face-to-face interaction. With maintenance, businesses have the ability to keep their website up-to-date with new technologies, functionality, security, and design.

Proactive maintenance allows you to introduce new upgrades and iterations to it. Maintenance focuses on evolving your website while staying on top of the latest trends and your business goals.

There are five key areas that maintenance covers.

  1. Security. Ensuring your site is reliable and not vulnerable to vicious cyber attacks or hackers helps customers feel safe on your site, and makes it easier for them to trust you with their sensitive information.
  2. Module or plugin updates. Equally important to your security, updated modules and plugins help ensure that the components of your website aren’t vulnerable to hacking. Not only that, when updates are done frequently, issues like broken links, features, and elements can be addressed easily, providing a great user experience.
  3. Introduction of new features. When you keep on top of regular maintenance or work with an agency it’s easier to identify areas for improvement. With areas of improvement come opportunities to introduce great new features that you and your users will love!
  4. Website Performance. When you keep your site maintained, it also improves other areas like site speed and SEO. Not only that but providing users with an optimized experience can also positively affect your Google ranking as well.
  5. Ease of Assistance. When it is time for your website to be upgraded to a new CMS (like Drupal or WordPress), it is easier for developers to help you. If they are not repairing old modules or implementing custom fixes, your website can be very easy to work with. In many cases, this can also ensure that your site can be migrated to a new platform with fewer issues.

When you work on updating and upgrading the current version of your website through iterations, you prolong the end of life. Maintenance works with your vision and budget, ensuring that it is on top of key areas of performance.

Making the right decision

There will be a time when you as a website owner/manager will have to make the decision to rebuild your website. However, it doesn’t have to be every 2-3 years. Your website can stay relevant, refreshed, and rejuvenated through maintenance iterations.

When it comes down to whether you should focus on rebuilding or maintaining your website, ask yourself why. If it’s purely for aesthetic reasons, you can achieve those goals through maintenance. If the decision is because your website can no longer achieve the functionality you had hoped or maintenance is now no longer a good investment, rebuilding is the next step.

Whether you’re maintaining or rebuilding, working with an agency can help you make an informed decision. Agency partners work with you to put together the best plan to achieve your goals to scale your website with your business.