Your website is a direct reflection of your business and professionalism. Taking care of it shows your website visitor that you are trustworthy and have high standards. On the other hand, content that is out of date, graphics and photography that load slowly or appear grainy and blurry, leave a bad first impression. Poor navigation and links that don’t work properly scream unprofessionalism.

Maybe you’ve tried to get your web designer to fix these things. Perhaps they take forever making changes, returning phone calls and then charge you an arm and a leg. Maybe you know it’s time for a complete website redesign and makeover. Whatever the reason, you’ve decided it’s time to change to a new web designer.

This seems like it should be easy, right? Wrong! There are two very basic issues to consider first before you take the plunge. Make sure you have control of your domain name registration and hosting. Some unscrupulous web design companies look to control these elements and exploit businesses by basically holding them hostage.

In the beginning, most businesses don’t want to be bothered by setting up these things themselves and a web design company will gladly do it for them. The problem ends up being that your name and all password and login information is owned by the web company and not you! They end up making some easy money by demanding huge cash for your domain name and website files should you ever decide you want to use someone else.

If you ask them to hand over your website, chances are they won’t. Unless you have a contract stating that you have full ownership of your website and can transfer it to any other designer at your will, you have very few legal options. If you make them really mad and refuse to pay them big bucks, your domain name registration and website files can just disappear from the web without a trace, forever!

Worse yet, what happens if down the road your web designer disappears or goes out of business and your domain is registered in their name? Unfortunately, this happens more than it should and I always feel bad for everyone involved.

At Charene Creative our policy is the sign over full ownership of a website to our client once full payment has been received. If a customer needs a domain name, we walk them through the process of purchasing one themselves and helping them to understand how important this initial step is to their business and brand identity. We always make sure that hosting and domain names are owned and controlled by our client because that’s the right thing to do!

For those of you who have changed your web designer, please share with us your experiences. Tell us your story, the good things and the bad things.

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