I guess one of the most disappointing things we deal with in our business is the “ugly” or “darkside” of how others deliver web services. There is not a single day that goes by where some website owner doesn’t contact us with issues related to the development, design or even ownership of their site. Everything from broken promises and deceit to outright performance issues send these customers hunting for a “new webmaster”.
We have dealt with some very disheartening issues for our clients. They call and need to move their site to proper hosting and can’t because they don’t have access, they find they do not own their domain registration, they have been locked out of and charged for GPL/free built in software functionality or their webmaster flew the coop.
While these issues do pain me, I have decided that all we can do is provide quality, honesty and transparency in our own business. So to that end, I am providing prospective new website owners the following list of tips and precautions before choosing a designer/developer and beginning a website project.
- NEVER, EVER let a designer register your domain in his/her name. If this is how they insist on doing business, then find a professional.
- Make sure you have full access to your hosting services, including support. If they want to host you in their account, then insist that you obtain your own hosting. If they refuse to play ball… find another.
- Know what you want and need. Develop a list of the functions, look and services you need. Provide this list to several prospective developers and make them explain how these options are best accomplished. Those that cannot …. get dumped.
- Know your software. If you choose a software driven site, such as Zen Cart, read and learn about the software. Buy a manual and really know what you are getting, then find a developer with a great deal of experience with your chosen software. This really matters, you see a general web designer cannot handle developing a Zen Cart project for example. They will only hack, crack and break the software functionality with their inexperience…. Costing you upgrade, development and repair money in the future.
- Be ready to work…. This is your website right? There really isn’t any money for nothing going on here… That is a bullshit lie propagated by people who would seek to take advantage of you long term. If it sounds to good to be true, it is.
- Do not rely on a sole person or company for the maintenance of your website…. People go missing all the time. Make sure you have a backup person and you are able to provide them the needed access (hosting logins, FTP and admin information) to help you in a pinch.
- Remember when you hire a professional, they are the professional. If this person tells you something is a really bad idea, you should likely listen…. are you a web developer?
- Insist on a development time frame and frequent updates. Development schedules get busted up all the time, but you need a plan and to be kept abreast of the setbacks and new expected schedule forecasts.
- Check your developer out. Contact owners of some of the websites in their portfolio… Better yet, send links to each of the prospective developers of each others sites and ask for their opinion =-). Google the developer or company name looking for the good, bad and ugly comments you may find. Really check them out, this is alot of money to simply throw away.
- Ask alot of questions! Every single thing you want, need to know, or do not understand needs to be asked…. This is your website and you need to know.
It’s also a good thing to user a designer/webmaster that has more than email access for support and questions, what if you are not at your computer and your site is down?
Being successful on the web takes a great deal of dedication and learning, all you do is in a constant state of change in this business. You never stop learning, adding new content and building links…. This is the cost of Internet success, make sure you are ready to pay it up.