An article by Darrell Wilkins on 21 Mar 2022
Summary: When making the decision whether to improve your current website or rebuild from scratch, start with your business objectives and where your site currently stands. Then assess urgency, capacity, and budget.
FinTechs have to continually invest in their website so it remains effective. But marketers sometimes struggle to know whether to improve their current website or rebuild from scratch.
Starting over can be a major undertaking and the benefits are not always immediately clear. But putting off a rebuild because of problems with your current site can also be harmful to the business.
What is certain is that every FinTech requires a flexible, easy-to-update platform that can adapt to changes in business requirements and deliver on user needs. You need a website that meets your business’s objectives.
The question now becomes: Which approach will get you there fastest — an improvement or a rebuild? Below we’ll discuss dos and don’ts to help you discover the right next steps for your FinTech’s website.
Let Your Business Objectives Settle the Improvement vs. Rebuild Debate
Too often, companies let technology selection, design, operational perspectives, or even personal preference influence their improvement or rebuild decisions. Your website ultimately needs to deliver on your business’s objectives and also be flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing FinTech landscape. A technology or aesthetic choice isn’t going to deliver all of that on its own.
Instead, your decision about what to do with your website next should be led by your objectives and goals.
Properly identifying your objectives will organically answer the improve vs. rebuild question for you. Once you formulate your objectives, you can gauge how close your website is to helping you meet them. If your site is standing in the way of your goals rather than helping you towards them, you probably need a rebuild — and vice versa.
Don’t Get Hung Up on the Semantics of the Improve/Rebuild Terminology
Your objectives will lead you down the right path for your website — whether that’s minor improvements, a complete overhaul, or something in the middle. To that end, don’t focus on the terminology. There’s not a hard line between improving and rebuilding your website anyway.
If you have a good technology platform (CMS/backend), you don’t necessarily have to change it to have a new frontend (brand/graphic, content/UX). Likewise, if you have a terrible platform that’s holding you back, you can keep your graphic design/brand/content/UX and replace the underlying technology.
But is replacing only half of your system considered a rebuild? You can see how the language gets tricky. Moreover, some companies don’t want to call it a rebuild because of internal politics. Maybe an executive was burned by a bad rebuild in the past and refuses to do it again.
Even as we use the terms “rebuild” and “improve” for the sake of clarity in this article, remember there’s a ton of nuance. And honestly, most websites need at least a partial rebuild because of the amount of work required — regardless of what you call it. Simply do what’s necessary to attain a flexible site that meets your users’ needs and business objectives and leave the semantics out of it.
Take Stock of Where Your Site Stands Today
In addition to letting your objectives guide your approach, you can also get a sense of the scope of work to come by analysing where you’re starting from. What’s your website like today? Consider the following:
- Content migration. Bringing over thousands of pages to a new website is going to require a huge amount of effort. Migration can potentially take longer than building a new site. And doing it incorrectly can seriously hurt your SEO efforts.
- Your content team. If you have a sizable content team, replacing your CMS can be disruptive and often carries a retraining cost.
- Legacy features and software integrations. Both of these can take considerable effort to remove or replace.
Even if your site is bound by one or more of the above considerations, it still doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t rebuild. The size of the effort versus the value of the change is what should influence your decision making. Conversely if your site is small or you know it requires radical change, the decision to start from scratch is more straightforward.
Spoiler: Rebuilding Your Website Is Almost Always the Answer
You’re already asking the improve or rebuild question. That means you likely have a significant problem you’re trying to solve. And a significant problem generally calls for a rebuild, even if you don’t call it that.
For example, you almost certainly need to rebuild your site if:
- You’re using old or outdated technology.
- You want to overhaul your user experience (UX) and visual design
- You have a single language/country site and need a multiple language/country site.
- Your development velocity (rate at which you can release new features) is slow because of your platform, and you understand that website speed = money.
- You want to work with a new development shop. Maintaining or improving other people's code is a nightmare.
- You have a small, easy to migrate website.
On there other hand, there are only a few cases where improvements can be preferable over a rebuild:
- You’re already using a flexible, modern platform. Your current problems can likely be fixed.
- The issues you have are not technical or operational. Rather, they’re rooted in UX, content, or visual design.
- The costs of migrating your content and retraining your content creators/editors would be prohibitive and hinder your ability to create the site you truly need.
Of course, no matter how clear the answer seems, always let research-backed goals and objectives — not opinions or preferences — guide your decision to improve or rebuild your website. Otherwise, you won’t get the flexible site you need to adapt to shifting business and user needs.
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