When working with smaller companies, I always try to stress the need to maintain as much control over their websites as possible.
Unfortunately, I’ve run into folks who have given too much power to web developers whose ethics are less than stellar.
For example, some developers will take over the task of registering a domain name. That’s fine if they register it in the client’s name, but many developers will register the name in their own name. So the business owner doesn’t own his company’s domain name.
Later, when the business owner wants to move on to a new web developer or designer, the original developer will charge a pricey fee to release the domain name!
Passwords can also be a sticky issue. You may need to share your password information with specialists who work on your website, but be sure you know how to change the password if the relationship sours. For example, one such business owner I know woke up one morning, logged onto her site, and found that it had been uploaded with pornography!
Do you know where to change your site’s password information?
Some small retailers use storefront website providers who supply a template for their industry with the major vendors feeding products into their sites. All the storeowner has to do is upload their local information. These can work very well, but some of them have serious problems.
One that I know of was built on a platform that meant the whole website was built on one page. To the visitor, it looked like the site had lots of different pages, but under the hood it was all on one page.
What’s the problem with that if it looks nice and does a good job selling? The problem is that a site like that is impossible to optimize for search engines. Good search optimization requires lots and lots of real pages. I’ve had storeowners with sites like these that call me for help and there’s very little I can do for them. They need new sites.
I’ve even run across bigger businesses that have built their sites entirely in Flash. Search engines can’t read Flash pages, so sites built entirely in Flash don’t do well in search results.
Another problem I’ve noticed lately are web developers who tell their clients that a particular Content Management System (CMS) will be easy for the owners to use, and they will be able to maintain it all by themselves.
Well, I’m all for smaller firms learning all they can about uploading and freshening content. And I’ve worked with a lot of content management systems. And although the do-it-yourself systems are certainly much easier than learning HTML, they still aren’t easy. Not really.
If businesses want to keep their websites fresh, updated, and continually improving (and they should), then they need to plan to have a staffer to whom they give significant time and education … or they need to outsource the task.