In the heat of excitement about launching a new service or product on-line, most budding entrepreneurs appoint a website developer. The discussion focusses on the design and functionality and cost. People rarely think of entering into a proper contract- after all what could go wrong and anyway “It’s my mate’s friend……”
Well I hate to be a doom and gloom merchant, but here are some real stories and facts about what can happen with no terms in place:
- You may not get your website on time! I had a client who did have a contract with her developer, but it did not say when the website had to be ready. She did not see this and went ahead and bought all the stock that she was going to sell via her website in time for Christmas. The website was not ready in time for Christmas. She was unable to sell the stock and went bankrupt with no recourse against the developer.
- You may not own the content and design. Without an agreement to the contrary, if somebody designs something for you such as a website or a logo, they will own the intellectual property rights in that content, even if you have paid them. So you may find you just have a licence to use your content which can be withdrawn at any time! If you later want to sell the website and brand, it may not be yours to sell!
- Your website developer may be able to shut you down. Many developers offer to host your website as well as carrying out the development. Most people think that is very convenient and that it is all one and the same thing. I would strongly advise against this and make sure YOU are in control of hosting at all times. To use a non-IT analogy, your website is like the stage set for a play in a theatre. Your website designer is the set designer. By allowing the website designer to do the hosting, it is like giving the designer the keys to the theatre aswell and keeping none for yourself.Would you do that? I have had many a client come to me where they have fallen out with the webdesigner and the webdesigner has simply pulled the plug on the hosting and the whole website disappears.
So I would strongly advise that in your first step into the world of on-line business, please draw up a proper agreement with your developer- even if they are a friend. If you do not know where to start,we can help. Look out for our next blog with the checklist of key terms for website development contracts.