Having an effective presence on the web is valuable and we want to encourage every organisation, large or small to do so. Launching a new website, or building on an existing site still requires due diligence.
We have seen a growth in website disputes, with notable business, or legal costs. They can arise from targeting by unscrupulous people but more often through either party being unaware of opportunities, or pitfalls.
This applies to those commissioning change and developers working for them. Web contractors often do a great job at design and implementation but asking them to take charge of business aims can be an error.
A Multi Faceted Environment
Building an attractive website, suited to your business is not easy to achieve. Template approaches often look exactly that, a web designer with a grasp of colour and design will in most cases offer more.
We have seen cases where these were not truly on offer but with reasonable research on providers, you should be good to go on creating the core website. Then the requirements start to diverge.
Who will establish the online business ethos, understand the needs of your users and see they are met. Who should be responsible for choosing images, or writing content, a very different skill on the web.
Marketing your business online brings in fresh disciplines. Will social media make sense, or paid ads such as Google AdWords, or obtaining decent listings in the main search results, which most people use.
Joining Up The Parts
Design matters, for first impressions, credibility and conversion. The ability of a site to function across devices is important. User experience is a key factor, in terms of structure, navigation and vitally, page speed.
A web design agency should offer good site creation but may not have the same skills in other areas, although many feel obliged to suggest them. Few designers are lacking a section on search engine optimisation, or social media.
You should not always hand everything over, even if you think the proposed designs are great. Turning to a specialist for SEO, or other marketing aspects does not stop you using the designer you liked.
There are a few large agencies, or long established smaller suppliers who offer a high, all round level but they are rare. As inconvenient as this seems, supplementary specialist support may be the solution.
Contractual Clarity Helps
However you decide to allocate web development and related services, a contract makes sense. By all means involve a solicitor if you wish, although legal spend on contracts may not be essential.
A verbal agreement can be a contract but hard to verify. A letter, or email detailing what is to be carried out may be sufficient, intended work and agreed costs recorded in a verifiable communication trail.
The most important point is to make sure what was intended to happen is clear, most website disputes are about outcomes.
Contractual obligation should also apply if work is carried out by a friend, or someone recommended. Situations change and a dispute can occur in the best of circumstances. A clear agreement is a powerful tool when they do.
If you buy a new domain name for your website, make sure this is registered to the organisation the domain relates to. Not in the name of your web designer, an employee, a volunteer, or anyone else.
This point may seem obvious but is a common cause of disputes. Incidentally, if you do have this type of issue, having the domain forcibly transferred to where this should belong may be possible but a process best avoided.
Look For Value You Trust
Take care over offers of assistance which seem too cheap, or suggest results which are hard to believe, particularly in relation to search performance.
All anyone can do is work with you to maximise the potential of your site, they don’t control search results. Neither should you consider methods to manipulate search, short term gain tends to bring long term disadvantage.
The same principle applies to anyone building a website for you, or running any type of marketing campaign. What appears too good to be true can lead you into unknown costs, provide unsuitable facilities, or no facilities.
Time Researching Saves Time
Our final suggestion would be to take care regarding what you read about running websites. There are an infinite number of forums and blogs offering thoughts, some of which may be useful but others not.
Seeing ideas can be helpful, just make sure you research well before putting them into action, or asking others to. Not a guarantee but try to verify ideas on websites run by established bodies and contributed to by their staff.
We hope the above has not put you off building a great presence on the web. This can be fun and help to develop your business in many ways. Just be cautious, treat the web as you would a real world opportunity.
Should you see a dispute on the horizon, that’s often the best time to deal with them. If we can help, on expert evidence, or provide straightforward advice, you are very welcome to get in touch.