I took over a website for a small business owned by Jane (not her real name) who was being charged Two Thousand Dollars per month for hosting, updates, and maintenance. Two Thousand Dollars for an eight page website is crazy! Jane financed the website with her credit card. She ended up maxing out her credit card, leaving her with no additional funds to pay the overpriced website maintenance. After informing the web developer her financial distress, the web developer responded by closing the hosting, removing the website, and he refused to give her access to the domain. This left Jane with nothing.
What could Jane (or you) do in the future to prevent this?
First, do your due diligence about the web developer and follow some these helpful tips in my Article “Hire a Web Developer like you Hire a Car Mechanic,” to find a reasonably price web developer.
Then, you can follow the tips below that can help protect your domain, hosting, and website.
Before I go any further, let me say this article is only informational and it is not legal advice. If you need legal advice, consult a licensed attorney.
Jane lost the domain because she did not have access to it. The web developer controlled the account and refused to give it up. Jane decided that the legal costs would be too much. For a small business, a legal fight over a domain could be very costly and time consuming.
One way customers can avoid this from happening is by purchasing a domain under their account.
This can be done easily and in a cost effective manner. Websites such as Namecheap.com(affiliate link) or GoDaddy(if you can stand the up selling) allow you to set up a domain in a few easy steps. You type in the domain you want, create an account, and pay for it. This service will cost you between $10 to $15 per year.
With the domain under your account, this protects you if any dispute arises. Now what about hosting?
Hosting is where all the files are stored for your website. In Jane’s case, the web developer hosted the files.
There is nothing wrong with using a web developer’s hosting, but there can be risks involved such as the web developer shutting down the hosting or changing the account access.
However, there are numerous alternatives other than using a web developer for hosting which include: Shared Hosting, VPS, Dedicated Servers, Cloud Hosting, and more.
And with these options you control the hosting and pay for it directly.Therefore, if any dispute arises, you have the option of locking out the web developer.
Anyway you do hosting, you can add additional protection by having a written agreement.
Why have an agreement? It is simple, memories change over time and oftentimes they change to benefit the person remembering them.
When agreements are put in writing, it gives you a resource to solve a dispute or something to present in a court of law if you decide to take legal action.
An agreement can include the following:
- What you authorize the Web Developer access (usually the domain and hosting service)
- Scope of the Work
- Price for the Project
- Payment Schedule
- Point of Contact
- A way to terminate the contract
- Where to seek legal recourse if there is a dispute
With these protections in place, you can be confident that your property is under your control and if there is a dispute there is enough evidence on your side to prove the web developer has violated your agreement and you can take the proper recourse.
Most importantly, you will not end up paying Two Thousand Dollars a month to “rent” a website, like Jane did.