Knowing When To Rebuild A Website

published on: December 8th 2019

You bought and paid for your beloved website and she gets the job done, but like a five year old car she is showing her age. Newer models are shinier, faster, and have more modern features.

Should you rebuild? Retool? Overhaul? If your website, that was once fresh and cutting edge, is losing it's luster and starting to look stale and sluggish compared to others - It is time.

If you built your website before the last wave of great libraries matured (React 2015 Vue 2017) becoming the de-facto standard in modern web development, you might want to consider a complete rebuild. It is no accident that most modern websites are built upon these frameworks. If you've noticed a certain cohesive "look" and "feel" that certain sites exhibit. You are probably looking at React in action. React is a library/framework created and maintained by Facebook that encourages developers to make customizable, compose-able & reusable components. We build dynamically compose-able components and declare to React how we want a "button" to look and function(where is it taking you, what is it doing), React waits for the data we provide and then builds the component for us and inserts it into the webpage where and when appropriate. What does that mean and why is that awesome? THE WHAT - Typically when coding a button, say for internal page navigation, we use the HTML to build the structure, then add CSS to style. We do this for each and every button because they all have a different destination or function. In React we use javaScript to code a button template once that can receive these differences as arguments or properties. We simply go to where we want a button to be in our code, declare it , point React to our template, give the arguments as props, and presto React builds the button with it's specific function and properties. A site could have 30 buttons. This would be great for buttons alone, but React is used for images, paragraphs, sections, blog posts, social icons, headers, heroes, background images, and every other part of a website. React is powerful. THE WHY - So, you have an older website that doesn't use React that has 40 headlines sprinkled about. You decide that they should all be 2 pixels larger. Your developer would go into the code base and manually change each and every headline to reflect that wish. 40 new lines of code would be deleted and then 40 new lines added. That takes time and costs money. A React developer would simple go to the template, change a single line and React would change all 40 headlines at once. Yeah, awesome. Seriously, just imagine it's 2015 and you are selling 20 types of hats. For each hat you want a product card or page to showcase and display an image and description of the hat. You would code out 20 different pages each using 700 lines of code(14,000). Now a React developer can code 1 component that takes the image and specifications as arguments and use it 20 times. For a grand total of.... 700 lines of code. It is that powerful.

If you built your site on an aged and outdated platform(WordPress) or under-performing technology(Wix or SquareSpace) you'll definitely want to rebuild. Sooner or later. In both cases it is easy to get up and running, however both come with deal breaking issues.

Customization - Want to constrain you web design or the way you organize your site? Use WordPress or Wix. All Wordpress and Wix sites look similar, and are extremely expensive to customize. If your web designer is using WordPress they are not designing at all. It is the programming equivalent of painting by number.

Maintenance - Updates with Wordpress and Wix are ridiculous. The changes always break things. The plugins are developed by unskilled people as hobbies on their own time. Not by professional programmers and rarely meet a professional, secure standard.

Scalability - There is none. Zero. As your site grows WordPress slows. Say THAT THREE TIMES. Never forget it. Many aspire to have a productive and successful site, yet build on a system that is incapable of dealing and functioning if that goal is ever attained. Weird - the choices we make.

Technical Debt - The most important reason for never going with WordPress and Wix. Having dominated for so many years the old monoliths WordPress and Wix pass on a technical debt to new clients that will hinder and keep them below modern standards permanently. Forever. Their sites are second-rate. That early 2000 dominance is now a noose. See, WordPress and Wix can not come up with a new system or use the latest technology to fix their many problems, because so many older websites(millions of them) have been built with this flawed slow and archaic system. Implementing any new meaningful tech would break millions of sites and would break the internet. So, they patch and patch not being able to truly modernize and keep up with JAMstack sites.