The Vanishing Web Designer… there one day and gone the next.

I have to say that this is probably one of the worst stories I have ever heard about working with a not so good website designer. So I thought it would make a perfect start to my Website Horror Stories. And while this is definitely the worst case scenario, there are a lot of vanishing web designers out there!

Want to listen instead of read… Check out this Website Wednesday episode with Business Coach, Nancy Ganzekaufer… 

Our story of the Vanishing Web Designer begins…

Carolyn, a Professional Organizer in Georgia, hired a web designer she found on Thumbtack for a $600 website. The web designer promised to take care of the domain, hosting and design.  What was most exciting is the website would be launched in two weeks. Sound too good to be true? It was.

Things started off good. The web designer immediately purchased a domain matching Carolyn’s business name and she felt things were moving in the right direction. She was happy that the domain name she wanted was available and that she had someone taking care of the “technical details” of her website.

That good feeling didn’t last long…

The day of launch came and things were not good at all. The website this designer had built did not have her logo or her branding colors. The fonts used were extremely difficult to read, and the images he used had nothing to do with her field of Professional Organizing. He also did not use any of the written content she had sent over to him.

In their original discussions the web designer had promised 3 revisions. Carolyn immediately reached out about the changes she wanted to make. She sent him her logo again along with her branding style guide and the content she wanted on the website.

Here is things really get good… (or bad actually!) 

The web designer changed her logo, updated her fonts and the colors used on her website. And that was her 3 revisions! In order to get her written content added to her website she would have to pay for additional revisions. She couldn’t even get access to login to her website and make changes herself as he considered adding her as a user a revision!

Carolyn never shared what she would have had to pay, but I feel like it was a lot of money. She refused to pay more and insisted she get the website she had paid him to do. She heard nothing back from him.

Carolyn reached out again and again, and each time her messages went unanswered. His Thumbtack profile had been removed so the only way she had to contact her web designer was through email.

Discovering all was lost… 

Through a little research, Carolyn discovered that the website was owned 100% by the website designer she had hired. He had registered the domain in his name. He was the only one who had access to hosting. And to make matters worse his email address no longer worked.

Here she was about to launch a brand new business and everything online associated with her business name was owned by someone else.

The morale of the story…

This may very well be the morale of all of my Website Horror stories, but its a good one and worth repeating. Like with anything, if you want to invest minimal time and money, you are going to get a minimal return on your investment.

Your website is an investment in your business; an investment of time and money.  You get to decide how much of each goes into your website, and it is that decision that determines what you are going to get in the end.

How could Carolyn have avoided working with the vanishing web designer?

There are a lot of things Carolyn wished she had done, but here are the top three that I feel would have saved her a lot of stress and anxiety.

  1. Ensured that she was the owner of her domain on record. 
    Many people insist on registering their own domain just so this never happens to them, but it isn’t a bad thing to let your web designer do this for you. As a web designer I myself have registered a lot of domains for clients, but they have ALWAYS been registered in the clients name.  That was part of the discussion and written agreement before money changed hands.
  2. Ensured she had access to the website to make changes 
    Even if you plan on never making the changes yourself, always make sure you have access to. Sadly web designers come and go and when they go they often disappear without a trace. Having your own login means you have the ability to share that with someone else who can step in and help with your website.
  3. Have a signed contract or design agreement in place. 
    This is probably one of the most important steps to take. Especially if you don’t have a solid professional relationship with your designer. Get a detailed written document explaining everything you receive as well as what you are responsible. This will help everything go much more smoothly.