A few weeks ago I had a client come to me with a very sad story. She had invested $10,000 into a website by “No-Name” Development Firm. It was developed and put up on the web. This month she decided that she wanted to take a different turn with her business, so she decided to let her domain name laps and transfer her website to a different host.
Once the domain registration lapsed she called “No-Name” to have her old website files sent to me so that I could make her branding changes and upload her site to her new host. Unfortunately, “No-Name” did not have her working files on any hard drive or server (the only site files were located on the server that was closed), nor did they have any backup files of her database. As my client was having a full blown anxiety attach “No-Name” shrugged and said “Sorry, we don’t do that!”
My client has now had to start her website from scratch and is now obsessed about backing up her site and knowing where her working files are located – And who can blame her?
It’s actually really sad how few web developers and designers “Don’t do that!” whether it be backing up clients databases, keeping their working files on hard or even releasing the files or artwork to the client. For some of these companies it’s policy so that their client will have to keep coming back, or pay a huge fee for the files. Some are just caress and don’t think of it. Either way, it seems immoral and unprofessional, however once it’s happened to you there is very little you can do about it.
One of the best ways to avoid these disasters is to educate yourself, know what you need, what you want, and know what’s included in your website and hosting packages.
- Get the right hosting package:
- An average entrepreneur or small business websites only need 1 – 5 GB of disc space and about 1 – 5 GB of data transfer. However if you intend to have large databases, lots of video, audio and galleries, or multiple websites.
- Most packages will allow for several email addresses. It’s best to determine how many you and your employees may need and use that as a starting place. You also need to note that email will take up your disc space so if you have a large staff with many email addresses then a larger package (up to 10 or 20 GB of disc space) would be ideal. You’ll also want to make sure that they offer either POP3 or IMAP email, a spam filter, auto responders, forwarding, and a webmail account.
- It’s important to know what supported features your package comes with. If you choose a package with a linksys network (which I would recommend), you should have options such as MySQL Database, Fantastic, Site Builders, WordPress, eCommerce, SEO etc. Again, it’s really important to determine what you may want or need when determining what you need. My “musts” are WordPress (with automatic install), SEO options, and an eCommerce option.
- URL or Domain name – it’s probably most simple to get your URL through the same company as your hosting, that way you can avoid having to reset name-servers or mail-servers. However, if this isn’t possible be sure to shop around, because some sites will sell domain names for less then others.
- Find out what’s included in your web design / development price:
- Be sure to find out everything that will be included in your website price, in WRITING. This way both you and your developer can go back and relate to this.
- Clarify how “extra” services will be charged. Is it a flat rate, an hourly rate, and if so how many hours may it take?
- Some services that may NOT be included in the price, but are very important may be:
- Design work & providing imagery
- eCommerce or shopping cart setup
- Special plugins specific to your business
- site backup
- email, and domain setup or site transfer
- webmastering ( website maintenance)
- social media setup
- SEO & Google
- Flash or Java Script
- Marketing & consultations
- Make a website needs / wants checklist:
- Luckily, I’ve made this easier for you and created my own checklist that I use for all my clients to help determine an accurate quote. You can get the Website Design & Development Checklist here. You should also read What Does a Website Really Cost to help you determine the potential cost of you site.
- Research how you want your site to function, examples help! This way you can show your developer exactly what you want and there wont be any hidden surprises.
- Plan your site ahead of time. I’ve outlined how to do this in my previous post, Five Key Steps to Take Before You Hire a Web Designer