There are a number of unethical website designers out there, who will charge you through the roof for a substandard service, knowing it is unlikely you will catch on to them withholding information from you or misrepresenting things to you. Before you take out any agreement with a web designer, ask them these questions first:
- “Do you register my domain name in my name or yours?” – Many website designers register domains in their name, so that if you leave them you have to pay a lot for it. You can buy your own domain much more cheaply from Domain Monster, who also allow you to configure your domain name for free to direct to any website designer’s server. Beware of anyone who asks for you to change the ‘TAG’ because they’ll be likely to be trying to transfer ownership from you to them!
- “Do you offer free email with my domain so I don’t to use my old address, such as from Hotmail or Yahoo?” – Many website designers will try to cut down on their costs of providing you with a website that requires you use your old email address, such as the free ones you can get from Yahoo! or Hotmail. The best ones will let you have an email address to match your domain name or allows you to use the one that already matches your domain if you are upgrading your website.
- “Can I buy only the website design from you and host it with someone else instead?” – Most website developers only take a couple of hours to design your website as a ‘CSS Theme’, and then charge you a lot of money to host it, so they can make huge profits. A good web designer will let you host your website with whoever you want. Some unethical website designers charge £350 per month for web hosting, when for the same service you can get it yourself from Domain Monster for only £2.99 per month for a basic website!
- “Do you use an open source system like WordPress?” – Many website designers will sell you websites they have created rather than use open source ones like WordPress. With WordPress you can update it yourself for free, and you can update it to the latest version of WordPress at the click of a button. Unethical website designers sell you their own proprietary system knowing you will have to pay them to update it, or fix it if things go wrong.
- “Can I keep my old website up and running while you design the new one?” – Most good website designers will have what is called a ‘testing server’. This means they can show you what your new website looks like, and allow you to test your website before it goes live. The unethical website designers will shut your old website off, meaning you could lose your current customers, knowing you will be desperate to get it back online, and pay more to do so. With a good website designer, the most your website should be offline for is two-hours, which is how long it takes for the Internet to know the settings have changed.
If your website designer answers ‘No’ to most of these then you should seriously think about whether you want to use them. Some unethical website designers will simply be good at marketeering and will drag you into something that is more costly than it should be. I know someone who agreed to spend £40,000 on a website, with 50% match funding from tax payers money, for a website he could set up himself for free using BuddyPress and WordPress, and paying only £8.99 for the domain name and £8.99 per month for the web hosting from Domain Monster! Some people might find it daunting setting up these themselves, but if you can find a website designer able to answer “yes” to all the above, they should be able to do it for you at a reasonable price. The best website designers, and those who are most ethical, are those who are Chartered. When you find a website designer, check whether they are on this list or this list on the Chartered Institute for IT’s website. If they are, you have a very strong chance they will be able to answer “yes” to all the questions above.