How to Avoid Unethical Businesses Who Hold Your Website Hostage

As a web professional, it’s not uncommon for us to work with customers who have no idea what we do or how we go about it. This tends to not be an issue because we always go above and beyond to educate our customers and to make sure that they are setup for life, should our entire team be hit by a bus tomorrow. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case with other design firms; in fact, they do the exact opposite and try to trap you. To us, this seems morally wrong, so today we’re going to give you 5 common unethical business practices to watch out for when trying to find the right firm to create your web presence.

#5. Outsourcing

In itself, there is nothing wrong with outsourcing; we have other businesses that we work with here in the US that do amazing work in areas that we don’t have the capacity to specialize in (video production, branding and advertising, etc). Where this becomes a problem is off sure development, which is typically undisclosed. There are numerous sites like Fiverr and Upwork where developers can take the job you paid thousands for, and bid it out at pennies on the dollar. If you are paying an agency for the work, they should be doing the work, and if they are partnering with anyone that should be disclosed up front.

#4. Pay Per View or Per Page

This is a twofold issue, that really is one and the same. It works in one of two ways, either the agency will charge you per page on your initial setup OR they will charge you per view on your hosting setup. There is no reason for any of this, with CSS libraries, themes, and templates, almost every page is a duplicate of the page before it, just with different content. As far as views though, your website costs the same to host if it gets 1 view a month or 100,000 views a month (there is a point where you do need to upgrade, but this isn’t it). This is a nickle and dime tactic, nothing more.

#3. If You Think an NDA Is Necessary, It Is

If you are looking for a web design agency, it’s very possible that you have a unique idea for the latest and greatest product. An NDA protects you from unethical agencies who don’t get your business, or even worse, agencies who do get your business and then later part ways, from stealing your idea and making it their own. There is no reason whatsoever that a credible agency should refuse to sign an NDA.

#2. Giving Our Your Password

There are a number of things that your web design firm of choice might need a login for. Domain names, hosting accounts, Google Drive or Dropbox are all common tools of the trade, but you should never EVER give out your master login. With this information, an unethical firm has the ability to hold your account hostage should you ever need to part ways for any reason. Instead, setup a sub account with limited access for them, so that your account still supersedes theirs if the need arises.

#1. Domain Name Ownership

This is by far the most common, it’s also the worst because you have no recourse. You should, under any and all circumstances, ALWAYS retain 100% ownership of your domain. Don’t fall for the convenience of letting the firm buy the domain for you, as you have no recourse to ever get it back for any reason. The name on your domain name is iron clad and domain name registrars are very strict about this. A domain name is under $15/year in most cases, do this one yourself through Google Domains or GoDaddy.