What if you don’t necessarily own what you paid for? Sounds suspicious, almost scary, right? (No offense, Karl.) The truly frightening thing is that this incredulous catch might apply to the website your business depends on.

Sometimes, we get a call from a frantic business owner who tells us that her website has disappeared. It’s vanished ever since she cancelled her monthly payments to a previous website designer. The owner usually goes on to tell us that they were fed up with paying so much money for so little work. And that’s our cue… We become the bearer of bad news. Their website has probably been taken hostage and, in all honesty, there is little chance of recovering it.

website trustThere are web design companies out there that make money, first, by selling you a design you love and,
second, by making you host your website with them. How? Because they own your domain, which means they own your place in the marketplace. A business url is usually the name of the business, which is tied to the logo, the slogan and, ultimately, the brand. So these leeches will have you paying to keep your website alive and well for as long as your business shall live (R.I.P. extra income).

To make matters worse, should you need to update your content, these companies expect you to pay for every single change at ridiculous rates that often don’t even guarantee fast service. It’s a good money-making scheme for them and a bad business plan for you. Just try getting out of the monthly payment plan – you’ll find your website has disappeared and you’ll receive a notification from the ‘nice’ guys promising to revive your website if you start forking over the cash again.

Our advice: read your contract and ask before you sign!

  • Can I make, add, or edit the content of my website after it goes live?
  • Can I move it to a different hosting company?
  • Do I own the domain?
  • Do I own the phone number? (Yes, these guys are ruthless – they’ll purchase your phone number too!)

Anything other than a simple yes means “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!” Take heed and abort the current mission. Find a web designer, preferably one that will only design your site, and not own your domain name or phone number. Like common sense dictates.

A good indicator is to ask about lead-generating abilities.

Websites, like anything else, eventually start looking and feeling dated. You wouldn’t want a client to walk into an office that made them feel like they walked through a time machine, so treat your website with the same respect. We recommend finding a company (like Jelly Triangle) that designs your website on lead-generating frameworks like Joomla! (our favourite). These platforms allow for content management so that you can add updates or edit the existing material for a fresh feel. It’ll also allow you to add a blog to your site, which in turn can help you to capitalize on marketing strategies like search engine optimization (SEO).

One last piece of advice: don’t get thrown off when your designer does mention domains. More often than not, your domain has already been purchased by a domain registrar (like GoDaddy) and you need to pay to use it. Think of it like your phone number. Your service provider has a lot of them and they assign one to you so long as you agree to pay for it. Rarely is renting a domain a problem – unless, of course, your designer won’t tell you anything about it and wants to charge you an obscene amount to use it every month. Again, “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!”

The bottom line? Find a web design company that will treat you with respect and act with integrity.

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