Once again I feel compelled to present yet another story of a business owner having to waste time and money because of the suspicious practices of the person they hired to work on their website.
I recently met with a client that was very fired up about spending time on their website, they had even hired a new team member to be in charge of the efforts and wanted to get started right away. Only to find out they had nothing in their possession and they didn’t know the questions to ask. Their web developer was in full control of their website and their domain name. Even though the web developer notified them that they no longer wished to work with the client, here we are WEEKS later and we still don’t have a WordPress login.
This is beyond frustrating. No matter how annoyed I am, it is very stressful for the business owner waiting to get back a website they paid lots of money for, thought they owned and could do what they wanted with it.
How does this happen?
There are two parties at fault here. First, as a business owner, if I am the one writing the check, I want to make sure I know exactly what I am paying for. If its not clear in the original contract, don’t start until you are clear. Once the website is live, don’t pay the final bill until you are confident you have everything you paid for. There is nothing wrong with having the conversation with your developer, “If you got hit by a buss tomorrow, how do I….”. A professional should not be offended by your questions and if they want to get paid, part of the job is answering your questions.
The Web Developer is also at fault. At Cybervise, we see certain practices by other developers that are just unprofessional. Here are a few that should be red flags.
Questionable Web Developer Practices
- Registering the Domain Name – Business owners should register their own domain names. Period. If you don’t, you are giving away control of your website. I have had many clients ask Cybervise to do this for them, but we won’t do it. I understand why a business owner would ask a web developer to do this. They are not sure they understand the process and want to delegate to an expert. If your web developer insists, you should see red flags everywhere. Web developer registers the domain, they are in control and they determine what happens to it. If you decide to no longer do business with this person, it will take a couple of weeks of back and forth to transfer control to you, plus you have pay the registration fees again. I wish I could say that it rarely goes wrong and business owners always get their property back. I can’t say that, too many stories where that is not true.
- Hosting Your Website – The first question I ask when a client calls to ask for Cybervise’s help is “where is your website hosted”. I would estimate 8 out 10 people in charge of the company website don’t know the answer to that question. And that is dangerous. As I have written about, I am not a fan of web developers also being the web host and as a web developer I have no idea why someone would want to take that on. We have been contacted by several developers in the past 18 months that started out hosting their clients’ sites and then decided they didn’t want to deal with the support, so they called Cybervise to help transfer the clients to their own hosting environment. Again, it just creates more disruption for the company trying to do business online. If your company pays for and selects the web hosting vendor, you are in control. If web developer insists they have to host the website, red flags should be showing up and you need to question it.
- No login or passwords for your website – Every website is going to have a list of logins and passwords associated with it. Every business should have this list in their security or disaster recovery plan in case of emergency. If your business registers the domain and hires the hosting vendor, you will have your logins. At the end of your website development project I would expect your developer to turn over a list of logins created for your site. Insist on it. We had a client contact us for help with their WordPress site this past summer, we asked for the WordPress login, the client went back to their developer and was told they couldn’t have it. Think about this, you can’t have the login to the website you paid for. What was the point of building a WordPress site, which was intended to have non-developers adding content to the site, if the client doesn’t get the login? If your developer won’t give you a login, you should see nothing but red flags. Don’t pay the bill until you get them.
Website Professionalism needs to become a thing
If you have been following the news about GDPR compliance and the implementation of these regulations in the EU, you may know about one of the cornerstones of the new policy which is the right to Data Portability. This states that a consumer can at any time exercise their right to collect and download a copy of their personal information and transfer it to another controller.
Think about how such a law would have changed your experience with your business website? What if you no longer had to worry about being stuck with one online vendor and how much time and money could have been saved because you weren’t allowed to have some part of your business website?
As a business owner and a service provider, why would I want “being stuck” with someone the basis of our business relationship? How many five star testimonials do you think that creates? Do you find that your existing clients are recommending you to others?
Here is a great article that reviews the options each owner has to hire website help.
Most of the time, web developers don’t have malicious intent. I think a lot of this comes from lack of knowledge of the industry or lack of experience in good business practices. However, doesn’t that take us back to the question, did you hire a professional?