The 5 Most Important Questions to Ask your Web Designer
Even if it’s free or discounted or in trade… actually, ESPECIALLY if it is! This website will still be representing you! Just because it’s your brother, an old friend, or in trade for their services, doesn’t mean you don’t have any rights. Ask some questions, and make sure you’re getting something that will actually benefit you and your business.
Sometimes a “free” website just isn’t worth it.
#1 – Who owns the domain?
Make sure YOU own the domain. You can still give Administrative access to your web designer, but in the end, this is like your trademark – make sure YOU own it.
#2 – Are there any subscriptions that will need renewed later on?
There are some programs and plugins that require an annual subscription to continue receiving updates. Some can come with a hefty price tag. If you’re not sure this person is reliable enough keep renewing these subscriptions, be prepared to pay for that subscription yourself and/or to hire another web designer to update your site in the next year.
Ask for Product Keys. Sometimes an update will break something and Product Keys need re-entered. When this happens, it won’t let you conduct any future updates until the key is entered.
Security fixes are the #1 reason why thing are being updated. If you’re not receiving updates, you’re creating a huge security risk. Not just that your site might break, but you could be infecting other people’s computers, exposing their usernames, passwords, and even credit card information.
This brings us to #3…
#3 – Who is going to maintain the site?
Like the old saying “there’s no such thing as free lunch”, there’s no such thing as a maintenance-free website. Someone is maintaining it; it might just all be done by the hosting company. Examples of these host-maintained sites include fully-managed WordPress sites (hosted by WP Engine) or the DIY website builders like Wix and Squarespace.
Otherwise, if it’s a WordPress website that’s not on fully-managed hosting, it will need monthly or weekly (sometimes daily) maintenance to keep it updated and secure.
#4 – Who owns the website – you or me?
This is a good thing to know and is too often assumed. Some website programs are proprietary and websites built there cannot be transferred to anywhere else. If it’s on a proprietary platform, like Wix, Weebly, or Squarespace, you won’t be able to move that site to a different platform later on. For example, you can’t move a Weebly website to Squarespace, or move a Squarespace website to WordPress or plain HTML.
Some programs or web designers might even hold intellectual property rights over your content, so be sure to check.
Other times a web designer might hold ownership of the theme or the design, requiring you to keep the website hosted with them indefinitely and cannot transfer it to another hosting company.
If you don’t own it, that might be OK, but you’ll at least want to know this. You won’t want to invest much time on something that could go bye-bye any day.
If there’s any content that took you a while to write, make sure you have a copy of it somewhere else. Images and logos – make sure you have a copy of those somewhere safe too.
#5 – Where is the site hosted?
While this isn’t usually a deal-breaker question, it’s something you should know! It’s where your website lives, and is the company responsible for sending your website out into the interwebs.
Don’t be afraid to ask if you can have access to the hosting account. If you can, awesome! Often times your domain email is a part of your website hosting plan. If you have access, and if the hosting company uses cPanel, this means you can pack up your website AND all your emails and leave whenever you’d like. There’s a lot of important stuff in your hosting account, so don’t go pushing too many buttons though!
And of course I’m always here to help or answer questions if you need me! Just holler!
About the Author
I'm Abby (Armstrong-Lehman) Buzon, Lead Designer & Owner of The Helpful Marketer, based in Medina County, Ohio. I got my start in marketing and website administration in 2010, became a mom in 2015, and left my day job in 2017 to begin The Helpful Marketer. I'm happier than I've ever been and I truly love what I do, so I'm here to share my story and give some marketing tips along the way!