It’s my opinion that in a perfect world, with all the options out there, everyone should create their own small business, hobby or online business website. The problem is of course usually a total lack of time on the part of the small business owner and/or a lack of knowledge on how to get it done. Most often a small business owner will turn to a web development company to create and manage their website for them. There is nothing wrong with this scenario however there are a few things that you, the small business owner, must be aware of before going into an arrangement like this one.
First and foremost be sure there is a solid contract. It does not have to be an elaborate drawn out affair but you really must have something in writing. A few items to make sure are covered…
1) What happens if you decide to, down the road for whatever reason, part ways with this developer? How is the transfer of the website to a new developer handled? Is there a fee to transfer the site? Do you, in fact, own the website and all of its content and databases? I know that might sound like an odd question but, believe me, make sure you get a solid answer.
2) Make sure that certain benchmarks and delivery dates are set for completion. Time is always a problem in the development world. Get dates and delivery time on paper. On the other hand understand that changes, additions and revisions are going to have an impact.
3) After the site is complete what arrangements are there for additional help? For example if you need changes or additions made to the site is there an extra charge? How long will it take to get those changes made? There is a saying that a website is never done it’s just between changes.
4) Is there a backend section to the website that you will need to use? For example if it’s an ecommerce site will you, as the small business owner, need to get in there to adjust prices, add or change inventory and so on? If this is the case is training on how to use the backend included in the development fee or is there additional fees?
You get the idea here. It is always better to set the expectations right up front for everything you can think of for both the web developer and the small business owner. Nobody likes surprises in the form of additional time requirements or fees. Get everything on the table right up front and the owner/developer relationship with be much better for all involved.