Episode 033: When to build a new website, WordPress or not

It is easy as a developer to say ‘let’s rebuild your website” but for a business, does that always make sense? You have a new business need, large or small, its something your current website doesn’t handle. Does it make sense from a business point of view to rebuild from scratch vs. adding onto your additional site.

Assess the Request

The first thing to do, and call this “discovery” or not, is to assess what the business needs added to their existing site. How much of it is brand new compared to what is there already? Is it a logo change, or did their whole business model change? Assessing the request itself compared to what the business currently has is the best first step you can take to understanding what the work involved will be. Sometimes this is easier said then done, since you may not know all the in’s and out’s of their code. If you can, ask for a temporary admin account so you can check out the theme they have installed, as well as the (if any) plugins they have installed. These simple steps can not just help you assess whether they need a rebuild, but whether or not you should be taking on the client to begin with.

As Jesse P said, this part is also called “The Interrogation of the Business”

Side Note from Nick Adams: Ask about about their previous developers. While this doesn’t directly effect the decision you will make on rebuilding or not, it will help you assess what kind of character the client has. If they bad mouth even a mediocre developer, it may not be someone you want to work with.

Assessing the Current Website

If you have looked at the business and their needs, the next step will be to look at their site. There are a few things you want to look for, and this can happen during a pre-contract discovery period, or first thing once you get involved in a contract.

  • Jesse P said the first thing he looks for is if the site is built on Genesis and if it is Responsive. These 2 factors alone could mean that simple changes will be easy to add additions, especially if its on the latest version of Genesis.
  • Nick A said he looks at other factors besides the website too, smart move. Maybe the reason they aren’t accomplishing what they want from their current site is due to bad hosting, poorly written code, and just a bad database. It is easy to pick up metrics to show that these are the main culprits, and that these should be addressed first, before even a full rebuild. These metrics might also prove that a full rebuild, with new theme and plugins, will be a better ROI for the client over just hacking away at what is there.
  • Theresa J said that she takes the hardest look at the plugins. Sometimes clients will have plugins that really overlap functionality, but they do something different enough that they use both for separate parts of the site, etc. Usually websites with many plugins are using each plugin for 1 UX purpose, which is a lot of overhead compared to building 1 plugin that handles a whole flow.

Decided to Rebuild, whats first?

We didn’t get too far into the next steps after deciding to rebuild the site, saving this for a future episode. However consensus is to first look at what they have, and figure out what piece is transferring over. Roy S brought up making sure to walk through your findings with your client, sometimes there are obscure pieces of functionality they want brought over that are hidden deep in the sitemap. Also, for each piece of functionality they want brought over, make sure to talk to the client about it, maybe they think they need it, but are not getting anything out of it. An example of this might be a survey or long-type form. Many businesses love having these to assess their own clientele, however if it isn’t being used, why duplicate a non-action piece of functionality? That will only cost you time, and the client money.

Quote of the Episode

“The Interrogation of the Business” – Jesse P.

One thought on “Episode 033: When to build a new website, WordPress or not

  1. Good advice, I shared it on my Facebook page.

    Nick, I agree with your note on paying attention to the way your potential clients talks about the other developers. Sometimes the clients have the right to feel upset or frustrated, but they way they express their feelings tells you a lot about them, and about the kind of relationship you may have with them if problems arise.

    It reminds me of people who badmouth their ex if front of a person they just started dating 🙂

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