There are a lot of things that bug us about the web design industry, but there’s nothing quite as infuriating as meeting a business owner who has discovered that they don’t actually own their own website.
You may be thinking to yourself that you certainly own the website another company created for you. In fact, you might be sure that the fact that you paid a great deal of money for it would clear the issue up, but that isn’t always the case.
Behind some fine print and terrible industry practices, you’ll discover a number of different ways that unethical web design companies can claim ownership to your website or hold it hostage when you try to take your business elsewhere. Let’s look at a few parts of your web presence that might actually be owned by another company…
Your Business Domain Name
Some web design companies will offer to register your domain name (like somesamplebusiness.com) on your behalf as a way of saving time and money. However, you should always own your domain and be sure the billing can be traced back to your business. Otherwise, they can technically claim anything that ends up being put on that space. Any quality domain registrar like Godaddy or Network Solutions have the ability for you to add a user to your account that would give your web developer the ability to make the edits needed but still keeps you in control of your domain name.
Access to Your Control Panels
Some business owners prefer to never get “under the hood” of a business website. However, if you don’t have access to your control panel, or at least have the credentials stored somewhere, then a shady web designer could lock you out of your own site. Then they’ll want you to pay something to transfer your website to someone else or make any changes to your pages.
Your Layout and Logos
This can come up when you hire a bargain-basement company to generate your branding materials. They could work based from templates that have been created by someone else, or outright copy logos from better-known companies. Either way, you could find yourself in a situation where you’re facing copyright issues or even hefty fines. After having a logo designed make sure you ask the designer to send you all of the native files in case you need to change a color or make a change in the future. If you do not have the native files and your designer is nowhere to be found you could end up having to pay another designer just to recreate what you already have.
The Content You Have Created
Some DIY web template companies will have you sign agreements that say they own any content posted to their platforms. And, some fly-by-night web design companies will publish text and images on your website that are owned by someone else. Obviously, either scenario can get you in a lot of trouble. Make sure you ALWAYS own the content on your own website, this is a large issue if you start a website redesign with another company and find out you need to develop all new content as this can really negatively impact your website’s SEO.
How to Protect Yourself
There are a lot of reasons you need to own your website and everything on it. Not only will it prevent you from being held hostage by another company later, but it will also keep you from paying money to another business who has seen their work stolen.
The best way to ensure you actually own your website is to work with a reputable web design partner. Even then, you should check your agreements, ask lots of questions, and pay for things like domain registration and hosting from your own accounts.
If all else fails, you can always turn to a company like ours to evaluate your existing website and make sure you’re on solid ground. No business owner ever wants to discover they’ve been swindled, but it’s better to learn the truth from a professional than it is to find out before it’s too late.
Looking for the Right Web Design Team?
At Black Door Creative, we don’t have to resort to dirty tricks to hold onto clients – we just deliver what we promise month after month. If you would like to work with a team that prioritizes your bottom line over all else, contact us today to schedule a free consultation!