If there’s anything I’ve learned during my time as a coach is that, ignorance is not bliss. What you don’t know can hurt you and unfortunately, almost always does.
And one of the biggest unknown realms for coaches is the technology that goes along with running a business. Specifically, your website.
When it comes to getting your website designed and out into the world you are virtually (pardon the pun) at the mercy of your web guru. You may not even realize that some of their “bonus services” such as purchasing and hosting your domain for you, could seriously compromise your business in the future.
So to help ensure that you have total control of your brand here are a few things you should hammer out with your website designer before hiring them.
1. You should always register your own domain names.
Your domain is your business’s online address as well as a huge piece of your brand and it should be on an account you own. If your website designer owns your domain and they go out of business, or you have some kind of squabble (may seem unlikely, but it happens!) you could be at risk for losing your domain.
When I started one of my first businesses I wasn’t so smart. A design company contacted me and offered to set up my website for no upfront fee, and then if I liked it I would pay a low monthly subscription for ongoing maintenance. It sounded like a fantastic deal, they even registered the domain for me as a convenience. I thought to myself, “Oh, how nice of them!”
Then, when I decided I didn’t want to use the site that they built (it was beyond terrible, so far beyond) they said I couldn’t transfer my domain to a new host unless I paid them $2000 for it. Yeah right!
Looking back it’s kind of funny how naive I was, but at the time I was devastated and had to come up with something completely new.
2. Make sure you own your logo and graphics.
It may seem obvious that of course you own your logo and graphics, after all you paid for the designer to create them! But it’s not always the case.
In your agreement with your designer make sure that when payment is complete and the design is approved that it is yours to keep and they can’t use the same design elsewhere. (and this goes both ways of course, if you haven’t completed payment then you can’t use the design elements or take your mockup design to someone else to replicate.)
As part of this, you may also want to ask for the graphic source files. This is usually in the form of an Adobe Photoshop file that contains your site’s design. The source files will have layers that make up your individual design elements that can be separated and changed as needed.
This way if you need to have changes made by your assistant later, or even another designer they have the original files to work with. I also find these files helpful when making other branding elements like your social media profile images so that they all match your website without having to start from scratch.
3. Get your logo in high resolution.
If you can get it as a vector file that’s even better (a vector file can be resized without compromising the quality of the image). Sometimes this costs a little extra but it’s totally worth it! A logo that is created just for your website will look fuzzy when you use it on your business cards or other printed materials unless it’s been built for high resolution.
4. Self hosting is usually a good idea.
With all of the reputable and easy to use hosting companies out there it’s very easy (and cheap!) to host your own website. Though some web developers offer hosting along with keeping the site up to date, and a few hours of maintenance each month. And most of the time this is an ok arrangement. It just always makes me nervous to not have total control of my account in the case that they go out of business, or we have a squabble (much like above). They could literally shut down your website at any time of their choosing, though again, very unlikely.
At the very least make sure that if needed you can get FTP access to your website in the event that you do need to have someone else do work on the site or you want to maintain the site yourself. If you use wordpress for example and something breaks, sometimes FTP access is the only way to bring it back, and if your developer is out of town for the weekend, you’re going to be out of luck.
5. Premium plugins on your website.
If you’re paying your designer to purchase premium plugins specifically for your site then you may ask to purchase them yourself so you have the login information. That way you own the plugin and can get support yourself if needed.
Oftentimes developers will have a special license so they can use the premium plugin on multiple sites so this may not be necessary, especially if they are going to be your ongoing support for the website. It doesn’t hurt to ask though.
All of these elements are important to maintaining your brand online and don’t always “come standard” with your website design so it’s worth asking about them. The more control you have over your brand the better!
What about you? Have you had any website horror stories, or other suggestions for pieces of your website that you should ask your designer for? Leave them in the comments!