If you are a small business owner or any business owner for that matter, you will come to the point where you will want to address your website. Whether it is your first website or redesigning your current website, it is as important to ask your web designer the right questions as it is for your web designer to ask you the right questions. There is a litany of articles written on the questions to ask. However, I want to address the most important.
“Who will have control of my website?” If the answer isn’t “you,” then move on to someone else. Why is this the most important question to ask your website designer? No matter how technically inept you may be, you need to be in control of your website. Here’s why.
Being a website designer, I hear stories about how the person who designed a website can’t be reached or is too slow to respond. I had someone call me the other day (and inspired this article) to redesign their website because the person who designed their website won’t allow them access to make updates.
It’s not a matter of whether or not you plan to do anything with the site. If you have a falling out with the designer and decide not to answer your calls, you can still access your website. The same thing holds for your website hosting and your domain name. You need to purchase your domain name and hosting plan. Don’t leave it to the designer to make the purchase and “bill you.” They may put the domain and hosting information in their name, and you may end up having to hire a lawyer to get it back.
If you do buy a domain and hosting plan, give the designer separate access. Don’t hand over the login information. The designer doesn’t need full access to your account. For website design, they need to be able to repoint the domain and access the hosting plan. They don’t need access to billing information. Most hosting companies can allow you to add someone with limited access. If you are unsure, call their tech support line, they will be able to walk you through it.
Another question to ask your website designer is who owns the content? There can be pieces of content, graphics, videos, or code designed specifically for your website. I had a client who spent thousands of dollars to get control of their website. It was in the contract that they signed. The company owned the rights to the site, and they had a buy the rights to their site! Before you hire any designer, read their contract. Find out if you own the content they create, or do they?
In my opinion, before you ask any other question, you need to find out who owns the final product. Once the website is launched, it is too late. I make a point in my discussions with potential clients to let them know they will own the finished product. (Once the final bill is paid, of course.) I help them secure a domain and a hosting plan if they need it. Sure, I may have them use an affiliate link, which I make them aware of before giving it to them. In the end, it’s their account with their information.
It is very disappointing when you want to make changes, and you realize your designer has all the access. Most will give you the information you need no matter how long it has been since you talked with them. It’s just good business. However, in other cases, like all relationships, some start with the best intentions. Then, for some reason, turn to trash. It happens, but you want to be prepared just in case. The best way to protect yourself is to start by asking the right questions.