Small business owners wear multiple hats when operating a business but then some tasks often end up getting outsourced. Website development can get technically challenging and its one of those projects that almost every small business owner chooses to outsource.
A client once told me, “I don't understand all that technical lingo used in web development and hosting, nor I know how it all works. I wanted a professional working website for my business and I just got it developed through a popular national company that’s also hosting it. I figured they know what they are doing”. During my conversation I learned that she had signed a 2-year service contract with the cost of a few hundreds of dollars each month just for hosting and basic updates. By the end of two years her website hosting fees totals to more than $8000.
Yes, she made an expensive mistake!
To owners who chose to outsource web design by hiring a firm, freelance or independent web designer, I would like to remind that a website for business is a commitment for the life of the business so take the time to conduct all of the necessary research prior to outsourcing.
Common Mistakes Owners Make
I have met many small business owners who outsourced web design to individuals who did not offer web design as their primary business but as a side or seasonal project and offered web design for a very low cost. For some owners this led to inconsistent customer service and then after experiencing inconsistency in support and frustration, they turned to a professional service provider. The new service provider refused to support the existing website done elsewhere. The next best option was to have the new service provider redesign the whole website and this in the long run ended up costing owners more money.
Conduct Necessary Assessments Prior to Hiring a Firm or Website Developer
- Inquire that website development is one of its primary service offerings.
- Inquire how long they have been in business and ask them for samples or links of websites they developed and support. Most professional designers or firms will gladly even demonstrate their service and offerings.
- In addition to upfront cost for website design, ask about monthly maintenance, hosting and any other recurring or associated fees.
- Get quotes from more than one service provider.
- Consider hiring a service provider not only based on the cost and analysis but also the customer service and more importantly reliable long-term support. One of the ways to determine this is by looking up online reviews about the potential service providers.
Save Money by Taking Charge of Content Update
Most business websites often require some weekly or monthly content updates. Hire a firm that provides business owner or an authorized employee with the access to sign on to the website portal to make general content updates as needed. I encourage small business owners to use this option as it helps reduce monthly fees and give owners the flexibility to update website content as needed. Making general content update hardly requires any technical knowledge.
When to Consider Paying High Maintenance or Hosting Fees
The only time you should pay high monthly maintenance or hosting fees is if you choose to outsource website content updating. The other reasoning would be if the website is setup to perform robust operations, large scale e-commerce or if it requires special hosting options like virtual private server or dedicated server which is a rare necessity for a standard business website.
Know Ownership Rights to Custom Graphics and Images
Most small business owners are unaware of the legal rights to custom graphics and logo design. Even though business owners pay for the design, its the graphic designer or the firm that legally owns the rights to the custom graphic design by default. This also means that the web designer or the firm that creates custom images and logo for your website can sell the same images/graphics to other clients or add it to the existing database of image selection for new and existing clients. When outsourcing custom graphics or logo design, business owners should initiate necessary agreements between the two parties and specify that the owner owns the rights to custom graphics and that that you as the owner do not permit the service provider to share, sell or license your custom graphics and images.