Dear Mom, What To Watch Out For When Hiring A Web Designer

Hi Mom,

I’m simply too busy to take on your web design project right now, so I created this checklist of what to watch out for when hiring a web designer for your new business.

Make Sure They Have A Heart Of A Teacher, Not A Salesman
Your web designer (or your rep at the company) should have the heart of a teacher. You should feel comfortable asking questions, and they should be oozing enthusiasm to answer your questions. If they make things sound complicated and confusing, you should consider looking elsewhere.

Only Sign Plain Language Contracts With Month-to-Month Agreements
Just like with any major purchase, you should have things clearly written out so you completely understand what you are getting for the money you are paying. While web design and marketing can be complicated, your agreement should not be.

If the terms and conditions are written in legalese and is even the least bit confusing, ask them to rewrite the contract in plain language. Make sure the cancellation policy is clearly stated, and that the agreement can end with a notice from you, and that the cancellation fees (if any) are clearly stated.

These days, you should be very cautious about signing multi-year agreements that has cancellation fees. After 6 months, if you are not happy working with them, THEY should either fix the issue(s), or THEY should end the relationship amicably. There should not be a contract holding you hostage.

When I opened HM Marketing in 2015 and began helping business owners launch new websites, they would share the contracts they signed with their previous web design company. I was shocked by what I saw.

Multi-year contracts that transferred the business owners domain and other assets over to the web design agency. Then when the business owner wanted to leave, they would get with huge cancellation fees.

These are sneaky, slimy tactics to make more money off you. A simple one or two page, plain-language agreement is all you should be signing and you should understand exactly what you’re signing up for.

Domain Name & Website Ownership
Besides the agreement saying you own 100% of your website and domain name at all times, their should be very little said about domain and website ownership in your agreement. If there’s a wordy section talking about domain name and website ownership, chances are you’re signing something you shouldn’t be signing. If it doesn’t sound right, it probably isn’t. Get a second opinion. Send me over the contract and I’ll be happy to take a look at it for you! ([email protected])

Your web designer will most likely be using WordPress software to build your new website. For WordPress websites, here are all of the credentials you need to be able to have complete control of your website at all times. If you need someone to test these credentials, I’m happy to help:

Websites can be moved, copied and rebuilt, but domain name registrations are the keys to your kingdom. Your domain name registration is the most important online asset you own. Make sure you always the login credentials to your domain name registrar. Here’s a checklist of all the credentials you need to have complete access to your WordPress website:

WordPress Admin Access URL:

MYSQL ACCESS (this is the database of the website)
DataBase Name:

SFTP (This grants you access to the website files)
Public IP:

Ask them to keep a shared doc of all the accounts they are opening up or using to maintain your systems. You should have access to all of these. Things like your Google My Business listing, Yelp, MailChimp, any online tool they are using, you should be able to log into yourself.

Have Them Send You Mobile Website Examples
Well over 50% of internet traffic occurs on a smartphone these days. A website visitor should not have to tap more than two or three times to complete the most important action you want them to complete on the mobile version of your website. Have the web designer send you examples of their work that highlights the mobile versions of the websites they’ve built.

Revenue Roadmap
What is their plan for showing you an ROI? How will your new website generate a return on investment (ROI) for you? When we accept a new marketing project, we walk through a revenue roadmap together, where we come to understand your profit margins, new business closing percentages and more, so that we can create an effective plan to grow your business.

Click here to see an example of a revenue roadmap. The process to complete this document requires that the web designer has done a thorough job at understanding your business goals.

I hope this helps Mom. Call me anytime with questions. Tell Dad I say hi. 



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