Over the last year we've received numerous enquiries from panicking businesses whose web designer/developer can no longer be found. To make it worse, the individuals concerned had full control of all client information, and in some cases were actually registered as the owner of the domain name as well.
This is not a new scenario by any means, but the volume of queries certainly is. So I did a search for some of the web businesses that I can remember from years ago......and very few seem to be in existence now.
So what has caused this? Well as you're aware there's been a lot of uncertainty since the Brexit Referendum in 2016, which was then followed by the Covid pandemic in late 2019. The ongoing ramifications and restrictions on movement that were imposed for the next two years took their toll across many business sectors, particularly those involved in Tourism, Hospitality, Property, Distribution etc. Which then had a knock-on effect on the ancillary businesses which were providing products and services to them. One of which was Web Design.
Having said that, there's still no excuse whatsoever in just disappearing with all client data and domain names......effectively leaving them with nothing. You can never eliminate the possibility of a web business failing, because over the 25 years that we've done this we've seen so many come and go. But how can you minimise the risk of it happening to you? Basically you need to do your due diligence and check them out carefully before contracting their services..
You may find this checklist helpful:
* Find out how long they've been in business. And don't accept figures just plucked out of the air, ask for verifiable proof!
* Is this their full time job or are they doing this "on the side" to earn extra cash?
* Are they a legally registered business and paying taxes etc? If they're not, they probably think they can make a bit of spare cash now and then as a cheap web designer. And there’s the problem. No commitment. Sell it and forget it is the order of business.
* What web applications do they use? Be wary of those using online DIY Sitebuilder programs. Throwing a few images onto something like that doesn't make you a web designer, any more than buying a socket set would make you an engineer.
* See examples of their work and take up references from some of their current clients.
* Ask around if anybody's ever had any business dealings with them, or whether anybody knows anything about them.
* Get a quotation and timescale from them, along with other web designers, but do not pay any money upfront! In our case we don't ask for any payment until the site is actually in place, so why pay somebody before they've even done anything?
There are many professional and long-established web designers out there. Unfortunately there are also a large number of "putter-uppers". Basically a "putter-upper" can be defined as someone who puts a site up, takes the money.....and is gone! If you've got problems you're on your own! Not sure how to do something or need advice? Then be prepared to cross their palm with even more silver first. If you can find them of course!
A "putter-upper" sees the transaction as a one night stand, whereas a professional web designer is looking to build a longterm relationship. Who would you prefer to entrust the future of your business with?
Which brings me back to the volatile business environment of the last few years. Because in a recession times are tough! So individuals look for ways to boost their income for a while by targetting smaller businesses with cheap web design deals that may initially seem attractive to the layman. Unfortunately, further down the line there's a sting in the tail when they're no longer around.
What you must remember is that your website is a marketing vehicle, and every vehicle needs maintenance. Otherwise, it will become an outdated security risk, site elements will stop working, or you could even get hacked. Even if that doesn’t happen you’ll eventually want to make changes that you can’t do without technical assistance. So you try and contact your web designer — but the silence is deafening!
Things don't need to be like this, just exercise due diligence on the web designer that you're considering, and take up references.
If you have any queries just contact us at any time on