It breaks my heart to see a budding entrepreneur get scammed by a website developer. In the heat of excitement and brimming with enthusiasm, it is easy to employ a seemingly friendly website designer without worrying about the small print. HOWEVER, I urge you to pause and look at exactly what you are getting for your money. This is likely to be one of your largest set up expenses and has the potential to run into thousands with no power to stop the spend! Here are some common mistakes:
- You have no agreement at all with the web designer!
Well this is going to lead to disaster! So don’t even go down that route-get an agreement! When you do get it, please READ it from beginning to end and make sure you understand it. If it isn’t clear, speak to the developer and don’t sign on the dotted line until you do understand.Better still consult a lawyer who specialises in this area.
- You have an agreement, but there is no time line
I have come across this many times . Common clauses used by website developers say that timings are just estimates and they will not be liable if they are late. If your site is seasonal and timings are critical, you need to insist on key milestone dates and ideally have some form of financial penalty for every day of delay. If dates are changed, confirm everything in writing in case you need to prove what was said later on.
- You agree to pay without seeing anything for your money
This may sound ridiculous, but this happens all the time. Website developers may set out a nice schedule of the instalments you need to pay on specific dates, but not state what will actually be ready by that date. You must ensure that each milestone is documented and that you get to see each stage and approve/test it before you are required to make any payment.
- You end up paying more and more for features you thought were already included
Another common mistake is not to set out in detail what it is you want from your website. Be nurdy! Drill down to the n’th degree and spell out what it is you want and what will be included in the price. The so-called ‘Specification’ for the site should run into pages. Otherwise, you end up paying for every extra item that is missing and it becomes a very expensive site indeed. If extra new work is needed, agree in advance what the hourly rate will be.Don’t forget to agree on how mistakes will be rectified and how quickly that will be done.
This is just a sample of areas and I could go on for ages! Bottom line is: please get legal advice and factor the cost into your budget. A client of mine who didn’t consult a lawyer at the outset actually went bankrupt as a result of her website designers unscrupulousness!