What should I ask my web developer?

Dec 9, 2017 | Frequently Asked Questions

In this series, we’ll be answering questions which we get asked by clients on a regular basis, as well as dispelling some myths.

We believe that you should be in control of your digital presence, leading your business or organisation.

Look out for further topics in the coming weeks covering SEO, Legal considerations, security, social media, Pay per Click, growing readership.

Enjoy!

It’s about trust, isn’t it?

How many people do we speak to after they have fallen foul of this assumtion? Too Many!!

About 1/4 of all our clients have come to us because of some falling apart from their previous developer. This might be that they have lost contact, or that they have experienced a sudden hike in prices without warning. Most of the time it’s because they are being charged high sums to make minor changes to their website, and they dont feel in control.

So, here are a few do’s and don’t’s to ask about, together with the sort of answers you should expect.

Who owns my domain?

If the answer is “I don’t know’, then you should try to find out. There are a couple of resources you can use.

– Nominet www.nominet.uk are the UK registry service for .co.uk, .uk, and .org.uk domains. Click on the ‘whois’ tab, and type in your domain. It will often tell you useful info about ownership of the site. Occasionally this information has been deliberately hidden, which is a service some people choose.

www.whois.com is a useful recourse for all other domains.

If these dont give you answers, and you can’t remember buying the domain, then you’re going to have to ask your developer.

ADVICE – Our advice is that the domain should be registered in your name, or your business name. That way, even if you enter into a dipute with your developer, you are still in a better position to get hold of ownership.

at VWD, we will always register domains in the client’s name, or business name by default. Sometimes we hold these in our domain account for efficiency. Domains are transfered from our accounts for a nominal £10 fee as long as all costs have been paid. Occasionally transfer fees are payable to the registrar.

Who owns my website content?

So, this may be very different for a range of web developers. You’ll need to read their small print. You may have your own dedicated hosting, which you can access. This may give you access to the files and data behind your site. Alternatively, some developers place multiple websites into a shared hosting account, which makes it difficult to gain access yourself.

Leaving a web developer can be difficult, and sometimes costly. Ask your developer who owns the hsoting, the website content, and perhaps how much their fees are if you decide to leave them, and want the data.

ADVICE – Our advice is that you should know in advance how much you will need to pay to exit the hold of a developer. VWD will make this clear at all stages. Bear in mind, that if there is money owed to a developer, they will normally require this to be settled before packaging up the site for you.

What charges should I expect?

How long is a piece of string?

You should expect a development fee, which may be a one off fee. Sometimes this will be spreadable over several months.

You should also expect some ongoing fees.

  1. Domain registration – this is a nominal fee, normally paid annually – a bit like the registration document for a car. From £10 to £20 a year reflects normal costs.
  2. Hosting – The website pages need to be placed somewhere. Hosting can be very different depending on what you need. A simple website with no secure areas can be placed in a shared host account for as little as £5/month. A super fast service, with unlimited space and secure servers can be as much as £30+ a month.
  3. Add Ons – You may have some premium features on your site which require annual or monthly premiums. You should know which of these are to be charged  regularly.
  4. Updates – There may be updates required or desired from time to time. You should get a flavour for these costs up front. Sometimes people decide to pay a retainer to ensure these are all covered, or pay when required.
  5. Content Management – If you need your developer to edit the site, and add your content, then they will normally charge for this. Alternatively, ask them for training so that you can do it yourself.

ADVICE – Our advice is that you should know in advance how much you will be paying.

VWD will make this clear at all stages. We wont carry out additional work without your approval.

What extras will I get?

You can have pretty much anything you see on the web on your website. Lots of features might be off the shelf, and often free. Your developer might charge a fee for installation and configuring though. Some require a licence.

Here are a few standard features which you should consider

  • Google Analytics – measure how many visitors you get, and where they come from.
  • SEO tools – There are some good free tools to help you with content.
  • Social Sharing – The easiest way to embrace social media is to allow others to share your web pages with their friends.
  • Contact tools – You might not want to share your email address with the world. A contact form can collect data from enquirers, and protect your address from publication and too much SPAM.
  • Email Address – A simple email address linked to your web domain is pretty standard. If  you want cutting edge industry level email service, then you can expect to pay up to £15 per address per month.
  • Website backup – This may or may not be included. Always ask if it can be, and how much the charges are.

Some extra features which might be useful…

Feed from social media | Blog | Ecommerce | Copywriting | Graphic Design | Stock Images | Mailing list integration | Video | Galleries | Slide shows | Private content | Member’s areas | Booking systems | Calendar management | Software updates | Fun features eg snow | Animation | Set up of linked accounts such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn | Image optimisation | SEO review & advice | Adwords | Facebook Ads | Maintenance helpdesk

…and more!

ADVICE – Our advice is that you should know in advance how much you will be paying. We will advise you about features we feel may benefit you, but will not advise items which are of little or no use

VWD will make this clear at all stages. We wont carry out additional work without your approval.

Can I edit it?

Most websites worth their salt these days use a CMS (Content Management System) to manage the site’s structure and content.

Ask your developer what you are able to edit.

ADVICE – Our advice is that you should know in advance whether you are able to edit your website, or if the developer is planning to charge you for updates.

VWD will make this clear at all stages. Training in editing the site’s content is included in our development fees. This may be face to face, or over Skpe or similar. We may restrict some elements initially, such as menus, as allowing access to this also allows access to elements which may harm the site.

How do you design my website?

Does your web designer have something in mind? Do you?

First, let’s dispell the myth – ‘Do you use templates?’ Well everyone does! THe BBC, New York Times, Oxford Mail. They all do. How else would you be able to get the same styling and appearance across every page? No on sits there, and designs every news story page from scratch. Every modern website relies on a template, or multiple templates (called stylesheets) to manage the look and feel of the website.

But, there are templates, and templates. Even the most basic of templates on WordPress can be configured to suit your needs.  But you may want something very specific. This may need a custom template built for you.

So, lets assume you start with no existing website. Here we will first try to get an understanding of your business, the business’s plans, and capabilities in the organisation. For example, if you have never liked or been on social media, is there someone in the business who is? Do they have a flair for something? Someone creative who can write news content?

Also, what are your goals? They may be many-fold.

ADVICE – Our advice is that you should know in advance whether you are able to edit your website, or if the developer is planning to charge you for updates.

VWD will make this clear at all stages. Training in editing the site’s content is included in our development fees. This may be face to face, or over Skpe or similar. We may restrict some elements initially, such as menus, as allowing access to this also allows access to elements which may harm the site.

About the author

Rob Jones

Owner Village Web Design

Rob has been creating websites since 2007. After leaving a career at commercial director level in high street retail and hosptality, Rob has focussed his skills on helping others reach out more via digital media. With over 500 websites so far, Village Web Design has helped organisations with websites, digital security, online advertising, CRM systems, as well as market research, benchmarking, and other business advice.

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