I’m still a relatively young guy who grew up with computers around most of my life, so I sometimes take for granted the fact that technology is not second nature to some people. As a result, a lot of people view web designers like some kind of all-knowing oracle sitting in a mountain temple.
I get it, web design can be incredibly complex, but like any business relationship, it’s wise to educate yourself—not only to avoid getting burned, but also because the more you know, the better questions you can ask, resulting in better results.
There are a lot of things web designers don’t tell most of their clients. Sometimes their motives are questionable or even outright dishonest, while other times, they are centered on making the web designer’s life a little easier. Either way, I believe every business relationship should be based on transparency and communication, so I’m going to share with you 5 things your web designer doesn’t want you to know.
You should maintain ownership of your domain and web hosting account
From a client’s perspective, it may seem easier to just “let the web guy handle it” so you don’t have to deal with the technical mumbo jumbo. After all, you’re busy running your business and your web designer already has the skill set to get it done without forcing you to playing middle man. It seems like a simple solution, but it’s always a bad idea.
Business relationships sometimes sour, and what seems like a perfect fit today could turn into an energy-draining conflict tomorrow, or you could encounter a more innocent scenario, like your web designer selling his company, going out of business, or even getting hit by a bus. Any of these can lead to your business disappearing online.
Whether intentional or circumstantial, if your domain or web hosting is disabled or expires, your customers would be unable to access your website and you would be unable to send or receive email. You might even lose your online presence permanently and have to start over.
You should create your own domain and web hosting accounts and retain full ownership at all times to prevent these kind of problems. You can give your web designer access to build and manage your website without turning over ownership. The methods may vary depending on the registrar or web hosting company, so get on the phone with them and explain that you want your web designer to have the appropriate access to complete the necessary tasks—and nothing more. They will be more than happy to walk you through the process or even do it for you.
We recommend Go Daddy to register domains and Hostgator for web hosting.
Web hosting is cheap
I mean really cheap.
You can find reliable web hosting from dozens of reputable companies for less than $10/month. (See link to Hostgator above.) These type of accounts are what’s referred to as “shared hosting” which means that you are renting a fraction of a web server. They behave just like your own private server would, but at a fraction of the cost, and are more than adequate for most businesses. (We’ve run websites with tens of thousands of daily visitors on shared hosting with absolutely no problems.)
Yet time and time again, I see clients whose previous web designer charged prices as high as $150/month for this type of shared hosting.
If your traffic exceeds the limitations of shared hosting, you can always step up to a virtual private server for less than $50/month, which offers greater processing power, bandwidth, and control over server configurations, before graduating to dedicated hosting, starting around $200/month, which provides infinitely scalable processing power, bandwidth, and control.
It’s easy for you to add content to your own site
During the earliest days of the internet, most users were engineers, programmers, and scientists who were comfortable hand-coding their own web pages, but once business owners started using it to market their companies, a new wave of people who were not comfortable hand coding web pages came into the equation. Eventually, WYSIWYG editors like Front Page and Dreamweaver made it a little easier to create web pages, but it was still very difficult for most people.
Today, everything is different. Content management systems like WordPress make it easy to add content without writing a single line of HTML. You can add text, as well as images, audio files, and even video just as easily as editing a Word document.
You might not need a custom web design
Business that rely primarily on their image, like those in the fashion, entertainment, or design industries absolutely need a custom web design right from the start, but most brand new start ups can launch with a website template for a fraction of the cost, which then enables you to put more of your budget towards developing content that will help you earn more organic search traffic and encourage visitors to buy from you.
Once you have steady revenue, you can invest in the custom web design of your dreams, and if you use a content management system like I discussed earlier, it’s easy to change the theme, and all of your pages, posts, plugins, and most settings will remain in place.
Search engine optimization is a process, not a one-time task
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen a web designer claim that they “design search engine optimized websites,” I would have retired to a cabin in the mountains by now instead of writing this article.
Properly coding and configuring a website is the foundation of effective search engine optimization, but it’s only the start. A more important factor is consistently developing quality content that your visitors find engaging and other people find worthy of linking to. It’s an ongoing process that will never be “complete” because you are working against an ever-evolving algorithm and competitors who are constantly working to rise above you.