This year we have seen an increase in enquiries from companies and individuals who have had previously bad experiences when getting their websites developed or updated. There were some shocking stories of bad service that could easily feature on BBC`s Watchdog, but we did pick up on some mistakes that might help insulate you from future problems:
- Losing control of your domain and hosting – Always either buy your own domain name (use 123-Reg, AR hosting etc) or know who owns it. This is an important property of your business and you should both own it directly and insist on knowing who has registered the domain and where it is hosted. Most competent web developers should be able to point your domain name at their hosting without affecting your ownership of your domain name.
- Not thinking through what you want your website to do – A good web design company should make an effort to understand your business and help guide you through the best options for your website. You need to decide on what you want visitors to do e.g. enquire, buy online, give you their contact details or simply phone you up.
- Not insisting on a project plan – this doesn’t need to be a detailed Gantt chart, but you should be given an idea of the stages of the development and approximately when the different stages will happen.
- Not being available to sign off design or test the latest developments – It’s important to test developments thoroughly and give fully considered comments when required otherwise you won’t end up with the website you want or delays are caused by late changes in the project specification.
- Not resisting the temptation to bolt on extra functionality – what seems trivial could actually mean a significant re-write of the code; conversely some complicated functionality could be achieved very easily through adapting existing software or purchasing software. It’s always worth asking about functionality, however think through what the implications are for your deadlines and budget.
- Not having an agreement for maintenance and updates to your website – as with any business agreement, both parties must get something worthwhile. A good web company won’t charge for absolutely every tiny change to text or images but the cost of regular updates must be agreed if you are to expect a productive long-term arrangement.
- Not having good quality images and logos – your original designer should be able to provide high-resolution versions of your logos and images. Also make sure that you have the rights to use stock photography – grabbing images off the web is easy but can land you in the courts!
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