5 Questions to Ask Your Website Developer
Over the last several months, I've ran into a particular situation that makes me cringe. It makes me shake my head in disbelief and I want to address it head on. I can't tell you how many businesses I have talked to that have found themselves without a website. I am referring to the businesses who once had a website built for them, but now find themselves stranded, locked out or fighting to have their website enabled after being shut off.
An Unfair Agreement
How does a business find themselves in this situation? A typical scenario goes like this:
ABC Company turns to an ad agency because they need an online presence. They believe that digital advertising will help boost their search engine ranking – which it might. The ad agency comes back with a flashy proposal of which includes an all inclusive package.
"We'll build you a mobile friendly website that is optimized for our digital ad campaigns. You'll get a brand new website and a stellar ad campaign!"
ABC Company thinks "Great, I can take care of two birds with one stone." They sign the proposal. The ad agency creates a new website and assigns a new domain name. I can't say that I haven't bundled Klimb Creative's services like that – I have. However, the difference between what the ad agency promises and what Klimb Creative promises is substantial.
Who Owns Your Website?
Here's the part that makes me cringe: In this scenario, the ad agency owns the rights to ABC Company's website, owns the domain name, and holds the rights to the content.
So after a few years of running the ad campaign, ABC Company goes to the ad agency and says "we want to cancel our digital advertising contract", the ad agency disables the website. Why? The ad agency may say something like this
"It's part of the Terms and Conditions. Your ad campaign is tied to your website. If the ad campaign goes, your website goes."
This becomes a big headache, especially when ABC Company wants access to their domain name so they can build a new website. The ad agency says:
"Sorry, we own the domain name."
Talk about hitting a brick wall. ABC Company is now without their website, without their domain name and without their brand presence online. ABC Company is a sitting duck.
Don't be a Sitting Duck.
Unfortunately, this is a common situation. I have vowed to my business and my clients that Klimb Creative does not, and will not, operate in this manner. Our clients own their domain name. Our clients own their website. Period. Klimb Creative is simply here to help facilitate and manage the development and growth of our clients' website.
Here are five questions you should ask your website developer (or ad agency if you're going that route) before jumping in with both feet:
1. Who owns our domain name?
Your business should own its domain name. Plain and simple. If five years down the road you want to switch website platforms or build a new website, you will want to have access to your domain name and DNS settings. No one else should own this but you. If your website developer insists on having them own your domain, either negotiate with them or walk away.
How We Do It: Klimb Creative does not purchase domains, however we can certainly assist in the process if our clients need it. All payments for domain names are made by the client directly. Our only role in this process is to help guide and consult.
2. Who owns the rights to our website?
Owning your domain name is crucial, but owning the rights to your website and the content is just as important. If anything were to happen to your website developer, or they go out of business, what happens to your website? The answer should be nothing since you own your website!
How We Do It: Klimb Creative builds websites on platforms like SquareSpace and Weebly. It is our standard that our clients own 100% of their website. All web hosting payments are made directly from the client to the hosting company. Simple as that.
3. Will I receive admin access to my website?
Your website developer will most likely maintain an admin login to your website – or at least "edit" access. However, they should not be the only one to have access to the backend of your website. As a business owner, you should have access. This helps protect the ownership and integrity of your website.
How We Do It: Klimb Creative makes sure that our clients have an administrative login to their website upon "Go Live" of their new website. We encourage that at least two people from their business have access to the website - one being the owner of the business.
4. Will I receive training?
Some website developers are really good about training a staff member on how to access the backend of their website. Others are not. Make sure you at least know how to access your website to make simple changes and additions.
How We Do It: At Klimb Creative, we encourage our clients to know at least the basics of editing and making changes to their website. For major changes or additions, we encourage our clients to at least check in with us before making such changes - just so we are aware in case things need to be reversed.
5. Who owns the graphics used on my website?
Some website developers include the design of the website. Others will only stick with the structural development and request you send them the graphics you want used. For the website developers who do include the design, be sure to ask them who owns the graphics. Can you use the graphics elsewhere, or only on the website?
How We Do It: Klimb Creative doesn't own the graphics we create for your website. You do. When we say we want our clients to own 100% of their website - that means they own 100% of their website! Graphics included. Why? So much of what goes into a website plays a major role in creating a brand identity. If you want to use a graphic that is on your website, on your social media pages, by all means use it!
I hope you don't find yourself in this situation, but if you do – please call us! Klimb Creative has worked with a handful of businesses who have been in this position, or a similar one. We can help untangle the mess and make sure that you own your domain, website and content.