Have you ever noticed that wearing activewear sneaks up on you? It starts just one day when you forget to get changed after the gym. And then before you know it you live in stained, baggy trackie-dacks with t-shirts holier than the Vatican (UGG boots optional).

Small business websites are like that. They start out looking brilliant and shiny new – with a high commitment to keeping them trim, taught and terrific. Then business gets in the way, and you start to get comfortable … really comfortable.

Eventually, your best friend quietly sidles up to you and whispers out of the side of their mouth, “I think it’s time for a makeover”.

Think of me as that best friend. If your small business website has any of these stains, holes or signs your website is untrustworthy … then honey, it is definitely time for a makeover.

Your small business website needs a makeover if …

1. It’s boxy

Remember cars of the 80’s? (If you are too young, hit Google images). They looked like shoe-boxes on wheels. Straight edges and sharp corners everywhere. Now look at today’s cars. Smooth sleek curved lines.

If your website looks boxy – it’s time for a website makeover. Boxy designs that squeeze the text into a skinny landing strip in the middle of the screen show your age faster than screaming out “Rad” or “Hang loose” at a rave.

Modern designs extend across the screen and are rich in stunning images and colours. Boxy just doesn’t cut it – it’s time for a website makeover.

2. It has cringe-worthy photos

We all have a good laugh at the clothes and hair we used to wear. Me? I was sure my Afro perm looked fabulous.

You can pick the era of a website by the stock images they use and what is in the photo.

When was your last photo shoot? If you haven’t updated your photos of yourself in the last decade, then you are showing your age.

If your photos show cars or utes that haven’t been seen for a few decades, if the clothing or hairstyles are more Dynasty than Kardashian, and if the cheesy stock photos are showing their age – it’s time for a website makeover.

Here’s how to choose the right photos for your website.

coming soon3. It has been “Coming Soon” forever

You had a friend of a friend of a second cousin whip up a one page “Coming soon” sign for your website. The only problem is that the page has been up since Fresh Prince of Bel Air was the must see show of the week.

Or you had a one-page website that just had your logo, your name and a phone number on it, figuring that would hold things for a while. Well it is time you finally arrived – it’s time for a website makeover.

4. It has mission brown colour schemes

Ok. You may not have mission brown and avocado on your website, but colours do go out of fashion. If you haven’t refreshed your colour palette with your brand for a few years – it’s time for a website makeover.

5. There are cobwebs on your SEO

If your SEO strategy for your site consists of seeing how many times you can shove your keyword into a sentence (and not worry if any human can actually read it) for example: “Heart Harmony Communications are Brisbane copywriters who write copy for Brisbane websites. Copywriters in Brisbane look to these Brisbane Copywriters for copywriting advice and copywriting strategy” – it’s time for a website makeover.

broken website6. You have rusty code

Would you race your vintage (meaning never been serviced) Datsun 180B at Bathurst? You wouldn’t make it round the first bend before blowing a gasket and creating a smoke hazard on the track.

Many old sites have broken bits of code hanging off them everywhere. You look at the site and links don’t work, images don’t show up and some pages simply never load. No-one is game to update anything in case it all falls apart.

The code that runs your website may have been state-of-the-art back in its day. But if it is more than 5 years old – it’s time for a website makeover.

7. It’s full of someones that I used to know

Employees (and executive members) come and go. But if your site still is pining over someone who left more than a few weeks ago – it’s time for a website makeover.

Regularly check the photos on your site to make sure they reflect only current employees and Directors, and ensure that the right people are profiled (in many small businesses you want the owner profiled and not a hundred photos of the girls in reception).

Previous staff and staff turnover are just the least of secrets your website reveals. Check out some of the other secrets your website is sharing!

8. There are rain cheques on that service

We all know that service offerings change. You pick up new services and discontinue old ones. But if your website still tells everyone about what you used to offer, and not what you currently offer it is like walking into a takeaway food place, and finding that the blackboard menu has lines through everything except for the battered flake. And when you add that the pricelists are only for 2011 and you have to guess the current rate – it’s time for a makeover.

Every business changes what they offer and how they offer it over time. If you don’t, you are not growing and need a business coach first. Your website should reflect your most current service offerings and not make people guess what you do.

youve got mail9. You’ve Got Mail

Remember how excited we were when we first got email? That’s when Hotmail and other free email accounts were in their heyday.

If you still have a Hotmail account (or Bigpond or Optus or Gmail) as your primary business account, you are wearing the equivalent of a Walkman – it’s time for a website makeover and an upgrade of your emails to reflect your professional image.

10. You have stuffy web copy

If your web copy reads like you have taken a bath in starch, and then rolled in jargon – it’s time for a website makeover (… and I can recommend a particularly brilliant Brisbane copywriting agency).

The words on your website should enlighten and not hide what you do. They should make it easy for people to understand exactly what you offer and how you offer it. They should give an experience of what it would be like to work with you. Are you corporate, straight to the point, quirky or friendly? Your words need to reflect your business culture.

11. It’s only viewable with a massive magnifying glass

If your site is only viewable on a nice large desktop computer, and you issue a microscope to anyone who wants to read your site on a mobile device – it’s time for a makeover.

Old code is not mobile responsive. In many cases you may be running two or more versions of your website – one for desktops, one for phones and one for tablets. If you have more than one version of your site to cater for this new-fangled mobile technology – it’s time for a website makeover.


So. How did you go? Any of the 11 signs that your site needs a makeover?

My rule of thumb is review your entire website – both design and content each year. Every second year, do some minor renovations. Every five years – blow the whole lot up and start again.

Ingrid Moyle

Ingrid Moyle (BA - Psych/Industrial Relations) is the Chief Web Wizard at Heart Harmony Communications. A self-confessed multipotentialite, Ingrid shamelessly blends her passions of human resources, psychology, web design and copywriting. When not hardwired to her computer, she quests for the perfect coffee while chasing virtual reality creatures across the backstreets of Brisbane.