Monday, June 19, 2006

Website Owner's Bill of Rights

The owner of a website has certain inalienable rights when working with a web developer.

  1. The website owner will be the registrant and the administrative contact on all domains that the web developer registers for the owner. The web developer or host can be the technical contact.

  2. It must be clear as to who owns the copyright for the visible content of the website and who owns the copyright to the formatting and programming of the website.

  3. The website owner deserves a non-technical explanation of the decisions they need to make. It is ok if the owner does not know all the technical stuff. That is why they hired a web developer. The website owner is the unquestioned expert in their own business. The owner deserves dignity and respect for that knowledge.

  4. The website owner is entitled to a clear, detailed quote of the services provided. The explanation should state what the service is and why it is important. The quote should state the required services and the optional ones. The quote should state the one time charges, annual charges, monthly charges, and hourly charges. The quote should state the services included and the services specifically excluded.

  5. The website owner deserves a clear, accurate invoice. A non-technical person should be able to read an invoice and understand that value was provided.

  6. The website owner deserves to know what they are expected to do. The owner should know if they provide the text and the images for the pages.

  7. If the owner wants to maintain their own site after it is built, they should get instructions on how to do that. The owner deserves to know which things they can change and which they can't.

  8. The website owner is entitled to the user names, passwords, URLs, and folders of each component that they are allowed to maintain.

  9. The website owner is entitled to statistics about the traffic to the website.

  10. A website owner should not be required to link to the web developer on every page unless there is some incentive.

Friday, June 9, 2006

Time or Money: Build it or Buy it

One of the first questions I ask clients is, "What do you have more of - time or money?" and the answer is always of course, Neither. So then the next question is: what can you make more of?

If you have the time you could either build it from scratch using a HTML editor like Dreamweaver. Or build it using online site builder tools that a web host will provide. The online site builders are easier to use without knowing html or FTP settings. But they are limited to the templates that come with the tool.

Many people like the professional look that you get by hiring someone to build the site for you. A nice looking, professional graphic design can go a long way towards adding credibility to your website as a legitimate business. But website owners also want the control to be able to update the site by themselves to change prices, images, specials, etc. Another good thing about hiring a web designer is that they will make the technical decisions for you. All the pieces will work together: domain, host, shopping cart, merchant account, gateway, email configuration, SSL, etc. I'll start writing about these in the next posts.

My advice would be to start simple with your first website. Just build a small number of web pages with a simple graphical design using static pages. Then as you learn how to maintain the website, start experimenting with new things. Your customers will let you know what features they expect in the next revision. As your website business grows, you will see the need for a more dynamic cart with a gateway to automate credit card verifications, blogs or other marketing ideas.

So, be honest when deciding if you have the time to build a website by yourself. If you do, start learning the tools. If you know you should hire a web developer, ask your friends and colleagues for a referral. Lets get started.