You've got a website. It's been working hard for you for years, and it's time for a redesign. When you approach your web design agency and they claim you don't own the code. Chills run down your spine as you recall the investment you put into that site--time, money, sweat, frustration. It was all gone now.
Determined not to be fooled again, you choose a new company to work with. Once again, you go through the process of creating a website *from scratch*. The planning, work, effort and diligence needed are met and your website is up and running. This web designer looks like Elvis compared to the last guy. You envision setting him up with your cousin, you're so impressed.
A few years and changes in technology later, you're ready to update and find a new designer you'd like to work with. It's nothing personal against Elvis, but you've found an agency that fits your brand better. That's when Elvis reveals he's really just a zombie in disguise. The slick web designer made sure that you didn't own the code once again. When you request the code for your website due to switching vendors, Elvis refuses. He claims your code will not, in fact, be leaving the building.
Staring down the double barrel of starting your website all over again, you feel week in the knees. How could this have happened? Again? Are all web design companies just used car salesmen in disguise?
Frustrated, and feeling almost six-feet under, you're not sure you have the effort begin again. What's the use? Maybe, you should just bury the hatchet.
As horrifying as the above story is, we warn you that it is true. Not all designers are scary monsters that look to haunt your future, but some of them are, you just don't know it. A client of ours experienced this situation and finally found us. In talking with them, we felt their pain and worked to gain their trust.
How can you avoid a horrifying situation like this?
Be sure you own the code and framework used to build your website.
You may not realize it at the time of signing a contract, but if this is not explicitly spelled out, you may be getting the wool pulled over your eyes. If you decide to leave, or simply want to redesign the site, your designer may claim that they need to start from scratch. Don't become a statistic. Get it in writing that you own the website and are welcome to take all of the code and tools used within in the event you walk away.
2. A deal that's too good to be true, probably is.
If you're looking to get a professional website for next-to-nothing, you're only fooling yourself. It's like the girl that's home alone in those horror flicks. Why does she always answer the phone when the bad guy calls? Just. Don't. Do. It.
Realize that you get what you pay for. And, in the event you want to leave that vendor, there may be a reason why your website is held hostage. And you're left crying like a baby. Moral of the story- read the fine print. Many companies that offer low cost entry and low monthly fees also retain ownership of your site. It's like renting an apartment. If you painstakingly painted a mural on your wall, you can't take it with you when you leave.
If you're looking for a website update and are feeling tied to a chair, call for help. We love turing web design horror stories into fairy tales!
If you've got a web design or hosting horror story, we'd love to hear it! Connect with us on Twitter