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A small business blog featuring tips to help entrepreneurs succeed in the small business world. Topics include family business, human resources, marketing, money, networking, operations, ownership, startup, taxes and technology.
Avoid Getting Gypped by Fraudulent Web Designers
Everyone knows that, in order to have a truly successful business these days, you need to have a website. Typically, as your business is just getting started, most entrepreneurs will design their own website through a web hosting program online, many of which provide services at an inexpensive monthly cost, usually between free and $50, depending on the quality.
For example, for the photography business I started this year, I designed a website with Microsoft Office Live, through their basic free program. The site templates are practically all the same, but have different colors and navigation bar locations to choose from. I don’t have to know any of the website programing lingo or anything, I just select from a pull down menu. Pretty basic, but it accomplishes what I need at this time.
However, once my business takes off and begins to grow, I plan to have my website designed by a professional so that it can have all the bells and whistles that I really want my clientele to have access to. And this is typical. As small businesses continue to grow, the demand for web designers increases. But beware, there are many out there that are simply trying to pull the wool over your eyes and make a quick buck, with no regard for you or your business. In fact, the Council of Better Business Bureaus reported 1,971 complaints against web designers or web design companies in 2006, up from just 603 in 2003.
In order to protect your business from being swindled by these wannabe web designers, it is a must that you do the following:
MOST IMPORTANT – Insist that you register the domain name yourself!
The quickest way to be caught in a bind is by allowing the web designer you’ve hired to register the domain name through his own company or name. Then, when he disappears off the face of the earth, leaving you with an unfinished website, you can’t do anything about it. If he registered the domain name, only he can make changes, unless he provides you with his ID and password, which is unlikely.
EQUALLY AS IMPORTANT – Put it in writing!
Just like with any vendor you do business with, you need to have everything in writing and signed by both parties. Specify what you expect the web designer to accomplish, how your site should look, what the site should be able to do, what the rate of pay will be, that YOU will register the domain name, etc. You can never have too many details in a contract. The more you put in it, the better protected you are.
I highly recommend that, unless the web designer is a personal friend or family member that you completely trust, do not hire anyone that doesn’t already have a few websites on their resume. Check their work (i.e. request a list of other websites they’ve designed) and talk to people they’ve worked with. Make sure they are legit.
Rate of Pay
It is also recommended that you try and avoid paying someone by the hour for their work. This can lead to problems if the designer is somewhat inexperienced, as they will take extra time to learn and design your site. Instead, try and agree upon a set amount for the entire project, and then split the project into pivotal points of transition and decide how much you will pay them at each interval. For example, you might pay the designer a total of $600 for the entire website, with $150 up front, $150 after the beta site is finished and approved, $150 once the basics for the website are up and running and $150 when the website is complete. Put any payment agreement in your contract.
Updates and Maintenance
Another way that these fraudulent web designers are harming businesses is by finishing a website, but locking the site out to where it cannot be updated or changed. Be sure to put in your contract with the designer that, once the site is finished, either they will provide updates and maintenance for you (typically a flat monthly fee for basic site updates on a continual basis), or will allow you or someone else you hire to update and maintain the site.
As with every part of you business, just make sure that you’re protected. Extra precautions are never considered over the top and most people will understand your need to take them. If the web designer you’re looking to hire is annoyed by your protective measures, then he’s probably not the right one for you.
• BusinessWeek.com: Vendors – Web Design Horrors
Related Small Business Buzz Posts:
What’s in a Domain Name?
What is Branding?
The Importance of a Logo
Marketing Your Website
What Do Your Clients Need?