What's the Difference Between a Website Refresh and Redesign? | Zizzo Group

What’s the Difference Between a Website Refresh and Redesign?

Your brand needs a website. One that grabs attention. One that generates leads. One that exists to serve your overall business goals.

Even if your brand doesn’t have a worldwide presence, around 97 percent of consumers turn to the worldwide web to find local businesses. As if that weren’t compelling in itself, 78 percent of location-based mobile searches result in an offline purchase – 18 percent of which happens within a day. As consumer behavior continues to adapt to the digital age, the need for an eye-catching and lead-catching website is more important than ever.

However, you may be part of the 22 percent of owners or stakeholders who report mounting dissatisfaction with their business’ website conversion rate – a sure sign that your site hasn’t kept up with your evolving business goals.

When you’re not happy with your website, taking a match to it and building something bigger and better on its ashes may be your first inclination – and it’s not necessarily a bad one, either. Starting from scratch is a surefire way of ensuring all of your digital needs are being addressed. That being said, a good marketing partner will never try to sell you a full site redesign if you can achieve your digital goals with something as simple as updating the copy, refreshing graphics or rethinking information architecture.

Knowing your options – including their benefits and limitations – will help you make a more informed and ultimately more comfortable decision for your business. With that said, let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of some of the most common web solutions we encounter: a full site redesign and a site refresh.

What is a Website Refresh?

If a landing page is digital curb appeal, then a refresh is a remodel. You may slap on a fresh coat of paint, switch out the kitchen cabinets or finish out a basement, but structurally, your house is pretty much the same.

As long as your website has good bones – i.e. your Content Management System (CMS) can still keep up with your digital strategy – then the simple cosmetic, content or user experience (UX) improvements that a site refresh can provide may be your best route.


  • Typically faster and more cost-effective than a full site redesign.
  • Can be done in pieces; large, complex websites build incremental design changes into their ongoing web strategy.
  • Does not significantly disrupt the user experience.


  • Doesn’t change the core functionality of your website.
  • Can’t accommodate significant changes to how your site is structured and organized, called information architecture (IA).
  • Not recommended for sites with high bounce rates.

What is a Website Redesign?

A website redesign is basically the digital equivalent of tearing down your property and rebuilding it from the ground up. You may keep some pieces of furniture, like content or functionality. Or, if you don’t have a particularly robust or up-to-date digital ecosystem anyway, you may torch that too.

While this may seem like the most drastic means of addressing various website woes, it’s actually the most efficient. Starting from scratch can help you right some of the wrongs that are affecting your current site performance, like bad information architecture, user experience, or brand representation.


  • Can change content management systems (CMS) to accommodate your current content strategy.
  • Makes your brand appear more competitive and dynamic.
  • Adheres to current web design best practices, including browser compatibility, site security, user accessibility, SEO optimization and mobile friendliness.
  • The more usable – and easily updated – a site is, the more search engines like it.
  • Allows you to incorporate things like third party integrations, social media feeds, and ecommerce capabilities from the start.


  • Can be expensive and take months of planning to properly implement.
  • If not done properly (i.e. with redirects and SSL certificates in place), it can actually hurt your search engine rankings.
  • Change can be scary for users and the people who have to keep the site up and running.

Your Website is an Investment

Much like a child or a pet, your website should always be changing and growing. If it’s not doing that, it’s functionally dead. And, to be quite frank, a big, ugly carbuncle on what many consider the face of your brand.

The decision to undergo a website refresh or redesign may be an easy choice for some. But if you’d like help understanding your options and how they fit into your budget and timeline, give our digital design and development team a call at 414-319-5700 or drop us a message.


Since you’ve been so good this year – trust us, we’ve made our list and checked it twice – we want to give you something extra special: 12 Days of Zizzmas. Each business day between December 16 and 31, we’ll be posting a new piece of real, actionable insight designed to make the New Year your year. So check back daily and don’t be afraid to drop a comment if you like what you’ve read.

Share this post

Want to share a business opportunity?

Got a project to discuss?

Looking to collaborate on creative work?