The truth is in the red flags

tagged with Developer

When is it time to rebuild a website? The obvious scenarios include big, hard-to-miss events. But more times than not, there are red flags flying in plain sight, signaling it's time to move on.

A merger. New leadership. A rebrand.

These events often trigger a website rebuild project and are hard to miss. 

But, sometimes the signs indicating a rebuild is needed aren’t quite so obvious. Sometimes the red flags are more subtle and mundane but, all the same, very telling. What makes these red flags so challenging is that they blend in with the day-to-day operations. Meaning they don’t obviously justify a big, expensive project. However, if left unaddressed, the red flags will eventually lose their subtlety. 

Each site comes with unique challenges, but there are some red flags, sometimes flying in plain site, that signal it may be time for a website rebuild which are quite common.

 🚩 The “one-off” scenarios have become the norm

It is to be expected that any well utilized site will have some deviations from the launch state. It’s nearly impossible to think of every iteration of content type design, layout, or behavior when planning. Still, if your editors have to reach for the HTML function every time they add content, your site is no longer meeting your needs. 

The goal in establishing a content library is to create the components needed to execute a strategy in a way that represents brand, user journey, and conversion goals. But if it isn’t cutting it, it’s likely there is more at stake than just the sanity of site editors. Now there is risk your branding won’t be uniform across all instances, that content structure is altered from the original intent, or blocks and pages don’t interact with functionality as intended. Unfortunately, these one-off instances add up very quickly, compounding the larger issue of not having the right content library to match your strategy and goals. Talk about a messy situation. 

Finally, let’s not forget, if site code is being adjusted by editors – particularly editors without development expertise – it begs the question whether your content is responsive, plays nicely across browsers, and meets industry best practices for accessibility and performance. 

🚩 Fundamental changes in strategy

Change is constant. But with a well-executed website, editors can pivot to account for the run-of-the-mill shifts for things like page tweaks for campaigns or an addition to site navigation. 

However, when changes to the digital, content, or branding strategies incorporate fundamental off-site shifts, the key is understanding how those changes will manifest on the website. The definition of a “fundamental change” is unique to each organization, but if your goals require a change in where you reach customers, how you expect engagement with your brand, or which avenues are used to communicate, it warrants a larger discussion about how your site may get in your way, with the understanding that you may determine most of your site will prevent you from successfully deploying a new strategy. 

Evolving your digital strategy may include onboarding new tech as well. However, not all CMS platforms play nicely with other tools. If your CMS doesn’t offer or allow for adequate integrations with digital marketing tools, preventing you from stepping up your digital marketing game, it’s probably safe to assume you’ll continue to run into technical restrictions in the future and, most likely, with an extensive impact. 

🚩 Team & Process Adjustments

As your team and processes mature, you just might find yourself outgrowing your platform. Team growth sparks higher collaboration, meaning more parties contribute. This is particularly true with content strategy and creation. After the work to establish a process, hire more team members, and set content goals is done, the last thing teams want to discover is that their technology cannot support internal operational needs or growth. 

If your platform prevents you from growing the team or executing process through workflows, user permissions, a DAM, or even custom notifications, for example, you might be ready for a change. 

🚩 Budget Breathing Room

It’s never a surprise that when there is economic uncertainty, marketing is put under the microscope when it comes to budget and results. When it comes to your website platform, if license costs are suffocating what little budget is left, it may be time for some big decisions. But when you reach the point of having more breathing room in your budget, those big decisions will pay off. 

When it comes to CMS platforms, being the most expensive doesn’t always mean it’s the best for your needs, and some teams find their license costs are standing in their way. The good news is, if you’ve been on your platform long enough, the CMS landscape might look a lot different. It’s possible there are CMS options that would reduce license costs without jeopardizing the effectiveness of your techstack. Perhaps rebuilding on a new platform with lower license costs will give your department more wiggle room in the long term, allowing you to execute strategies while hopefully making you more resistant to future budget restrictions. 

🚩 Outdated Platform

Finally, and maybe the biggest red flag: your CMS software version could be all the sign you need. I’ve seen it happen before - a CMS becomes so far out of date that it needs a substantial amount of work just to upgrade to a point that the site is secure and supported. It might be hard to see the issues short term, but trust me, each ignored upgrade will come back as multiple red flags in the future. Many times the best way forward is to drop the build with all the technical baggage so you can rebuild. 

Discovering you’re at the point of a website rebuild is not always a blast. Now questions about partners, pricing, and platforms arise. But at the same time, it might be a chance to make lemonade: an opportunity to take a hard look at your site, what works, what should be improved, and what’s standing in your way. It’s not always easy to identify and acknowledge the red flags, but when you do, isn’t it all worth it if it means you’ll be flying green flags in a new website build?