The web design industry, like most industries, has its little secrets. Secrets that are often used to make sure the customers part which as much cash as possible when shopping for a new website and again over its lifespan.
Not all operators are rip-off merchants but there sure are a few who try to gloss over the extra fees a customer might be in for and there are some who try to lock customers in to ‘proprietary’ systems so they can never leave, yup, welcome to the Hotel California!
Here are the kinds of things that customers should be thinking about before choosing a web designer;
– What does the hosting cost? The website has to live somewhere so it can be displayed to visitors and this hosting will cost you in one way or other. Many designers try to gloss over the hosting cost during the design phase so you only find out at the last minute thatyou are up for another couple of hundred dollars per year!
– Is it possible to move a site if you want to change providers or are you locked in to the designers hosting arrangements? This can be a huge hassle should you need to change to another provider later on.
– Is your website built on an open source or proprietary system? Some designers will build your site on their own ‘proprietary’ systems in order to keep you locked in to their hosting.
Ownership / Copyright Arrangements
– Who really owns the website? You or the designer? Some designers will claim they retain the ownership over the website or its design and image content to prevent you moving to another provider.
– Similarly with your domain name if you get the designer to register one. Ensure it is registered in your name and not to the designer or you can be in for a pile of trouble when you want to change providers.
– If you are paying just a couple of hundred dollars for a website it is most likely you will be getting a template website so you could find several look-a-likes, even in your own industry. Template sites do have their place in the big scheme of things but you should not be getting one if you are paying for custom services.
– Are the design staff accessible? Some providers outsource website design and development to overseas designers which can lead to delays and misunderstandings in getting your website operational with the look and feel you wanted. Make sure you can reach your designer as needed.
Content Writing and/or Upload Arrangements
– Unless you are paying for copy writing, layout and upload services, getting the content of the website published on your website is up to you so make sure you understand how to place it on your new site as getting your designer to upload it can be expensive.
– Can you edit the content on your pages? Some designers give you little control over the content editing so that you have no choice but to get the designer to make all changes and updates, needless to say that can end up costing a lot over time.
– Make sure you understand what other fees might be payable, some companies hide the fact that their free support is limited and you may have to pay for support after the first free hours are up.
– A user friendly content management system that lets you manage your content freely will save hundreds of dollars in upload fees.
– Some web designers will charge for backup copies of your content so ensure you know if this will apply to you.
– Some designers charge exorbitant fees for additional services like domain registration. Make sure you can register your domain separately yourself to avoid unnecessary fees.
Search Engine Marketing Services
– There are many web designers who claim that their designs will get you to the top of Google. Of course they don’t tell you what particular search queries will show your site at the top of Google! The truth is, design does not get your site into Google, though bad design can be a hindrance.
– Search engine submission is often also dangled as a carrot by some designers when the fact is submission is not required! Search engines will find your site as long as it is linked to from other websites.
– Search engines value good content most of all and you often don’t need SEO assistance if you can write well on your topics. Ask if your designer can offer SEO advice free of charge and allow you control over the individual page titles. The combination of good unique content and page titles is often enough to get good rankings on Google!
If you are shopping for a website, don’t let designers pull the wool over your eyes, ask about the above points and you should be able to sort the good from the ugly.