Enter the World of Web Design Cautiously
Web developers can come up with great designs that help attract business and make your site more user-friendly. But be careful who you hire or you could wind up wasting money and hurting your image.
You want your Web site to lure new customers and provide interesting information to your existing clientele. But be careful when retaining a firm to develop or update your site. There are a lot of fly-by-night operators in the Web development business.
With no licensing requirements, anyone can set up shop — and the consequences can be devastating. For example, one company paid $75,000 to a firm to design a complex site to take orders from customers. The developer “farmed out” the job to an overseas third party. The company never got the site it needed and lost a bundle in the process.
To prevent problems cropping up down the road, here are three safeguards to take before entering into any agreement:
Safeguard 1. The development firm should provide references and examples of its prior work in your field of interest. Of course, the references should confirm that the developer completed the projects satisfactorily. It’s critical that the firm be what it appears, and not merely a jobber who sends work out to third party contractors.
Safeguard 2. When searching for a Web development firm, your company may submit a Request for Proposal (RFP) to a few firms to get bids. Make sure the bidders know that your RFP is a copyrighted document that may not be shared with others so that information about your firm doesn’t wind up in the hands of competitors.
Safeguard 3. Consult with an attorney about how to retain your intellectual property rights.
Safeguard 4. Include all of the following in a written contract:
- A means for network administration hosting and backup. If your site is hosted on the developer’s server, you must have full control over the domain name.
- The developer will provide a copy of the source code and all updates.
- The exact scope of the work; specifications, deadlines and penalties for non-delivery.
An acceptance period during which you can confirm that the work is satisfactory. Problems might crop up long after the check has cleared.