Recently I was asked to help re-develop a website. No big deal there – The website looked very old and wasn’t easy to navigate, and the client was sure there was something better out there. But when I looked further into it, I was truly staggered by the situation and how the web designer was fleecing this customer. This was a small business with no technical support, other than the web developer and they were taking full advantage of this customer.
What came out of that actually helped me to formalise a number of things that I needed to do, to ensure that none of my customers ended up in the situation of this small business. So here are my rules, if you want to save yourself pain and anguish in the future.
Rule Number 1 – Register your own domain names.
At the nub of many issues is the domain name. Your domain name is reservoirdigital.co.uk or yourcompany.co.uk or yourcompany.com. Practically, this means going to a Domain Name Registrar and setting up an account and registering your own domain names. Any hosting company will do this, but if you want total freedom, register your domain names with ‘Nominet’, as this is the official registry of all .uk names.
A domain name is not a website. Once you have registered a domain name, you can then point the domain name at a set of pages you have created – this becomes a website. But more importantly, in the future, you can point that domain name somewhere else, and thus you remain in control.
Rule Number 2 – Hosting etc
Make sure you know where your website is hosted (this could be with GoDaddy, or 1and1, or any number of web hosting companies. Ensure you have administrative access to all of this, especially what is often referred to as the C-panel – where you can control much of what happens to your website. Also ensure that you know all of the licenses, plugins and paid for add-ons on your website and take them over from the Web Design company. This includes the Theme that the web designer is using.
Rule Number 3 – Content Management Systems
Do not under any circumstances fall for the web designer’s Content Management System. The Web Designer will tell you that their CMS is the best on the planet and you have to use it. If you fall for this, then in all likelihood you will be paying through the nose for it, like my customer was – to the tune of £3-4000 per year. My advice is use WordPress. It’s easy to use, compared to anything else out there, plus, if you get brave you can do it yourself. But even if you can’t there are hundreds of people out there who can. WordPress is free, as are a great many fantastic themes, page builders and plugins.
Rule Number 4 – Analytics
Make sure you set up the google analytics under your own name and not the web designers, otherwise you will forever be locked out.
Rule Number 5 – Back Up
Do your own backups. Don’t trust the web designer, or the web hosting company to do it for you. It’s so simple to do in something like WordPress – three clicks – Tools – Export – Download. Done.
Rule Number 6 – Contracts
Make sure you have a contract and read it very carefully. It should cover the conditions of service and what you get for your money.