Shhh…don’t tell your designer friends I said this. When it’s time to upgrade your firm’s website, the truth is…you don’t always have to build the whole thing from scratch.

Before the hate-mail starts pouring in from professionals of all disciplines, let me provide a disclaimer and then follow up with some explanation.

Some firms DO need to redo their whole website. Seriously, there are some bad ones out there from a functionality, design and marketing point of view. The rest of this post is not for those firms.

I may be biased, but one of the best aspects of offering marketing services beginning with strategy development and carrying all the way through to execution and monitoring is that we focus on the big picture, not just the completion of a project. We also don’t have a vested interest in providing one service over another – we just want to achieve a goal, your goal, in the most efficient and effective way possible. Depending on your goal, the answer for every problem or new need isn’t always a start-from-scratch rebuild. There are other options, like…

Facelifts – You might be getting tired of the way your site looks. Most A/E firms do after a few years. If your site is built on a sound platform (like WordPress or another CMS), it functions the way you’d like it to, and is performing well with regards to SEO, you might just need to do a “reskin” or fresh design. Depending on how things were built in the first place, a redesign doesn’t have to mean an entire new back-end, and a reskin can literally save you thousands of dollars.

Additions and Renovations – Occasionally websites launch and then after a year or two the team says, “I wish we would have included our Twitter feed.” Another common example for architecture firms or contractors is when the portfolio section misses the mark with dated navigation or poor SEO. Now, it isn’t always seamless for a new vendor to get into existing code and make improvements, but it’s possible. Enhancing an existing site by upgrading interactive features, adding forms or building up valuable content is a definite option when the overall look, feel and functionality of your site are still making you happy.

Repairing the Foundation – A less common option (and perhaps the least popular option among the design community), is the rebuild of a website on a new content management system while keeping the existing design the same. The bottom line is that sometimes sites aren’t built with the admin in mind or the capabilities of the in-house team change. Instead of starting over with fresh information architecture and going through the design process for a website, it can be just a matter of moving from one platform or CMS to another and increasing the admin’s usability. Your website is much more than a visual representation of your brand, and there are times when everything behind the scenes needs an overhaul, but the design still stands.

The takeaway for us is, there are always options! Often, it is in the best interest of your firm to take a clean cut at a website redesign with all the new bells and whistles. But one size doesn’t fit all, and occasionally architecture and engineering firms need a little more flexibility in the approach to web upgrades.