Check Your Content Management System
Does your website use a proprietary content management system (CMS)? Some companies sell proprietary CMSes or ones they’ve built themselves and sometimes don’t have the resources to maintain. You may not even have administrative access to the CMS. This binds you to a specific agency and means you’re not using the best CMS for your needs.
Your website should build on open source software that’s continually updated and has an active community around it. That way, developers and content creators can access support in the event of an issue. We recommend WordPress or Shopify to our clients. Choosing between the two will depend on your business.
Choose Robust Hosting Conditions
A website needs both a host and a domain. The host gives the site a place to live, and the domain name provides your URL. Make sure that your domain is registered under your business, not your marketing agency. You should also have access to the website host credentials and DNS hosting.
Watch out for companies reselling their hosting. This kind of hosting can be overpriced and technically outdated. Don’t overpay for a service that doesn’t meet your needs.
Sometimes you can get email accounts at the same time as website hosting. Be careful with this approach since your email may then be tied to your agency. Digital agencies often can’t maintain good servers themselves. It’s best to use Google, G Suite, or Office365 for your email accounts. The expense is worth it because you have control, flexibility, and a wealth of support resources.
Have Control Over Service Logins
Does your agency create and control the logins for the services you use? This can include Google Analytics, MailChimp, and social media accounts. Often an account will be created by an agency or they’ll have primary control over the accounts. Your business then gets a guest account. This can tie you to an agency. It’s particularly risky with Google Analytics, because your analytics will always be kept under the account that sets up the service. You can’t export your data.
Protect your business by creating your own accounts. Making a Facebook page, setting up Google Analytics, and creating logins for other social media platforms is straightforward. Once you’ve made the accounts, you can grant access to an agency. Some platforms, like MailChimp, even offer developer account access to simplify this process. By maintaining control over your service logins, you can ensure that your operations run smoothly no matter what changes arise.
Build Contracts That Work For You
Is the warranty for your website well defined? When a problem comes up, you’ll want to have a clear process for fixing it. Make sure you’ve discussed the difference between a bug and a feature. Be involved in website testing as much as possible so you’ve thoroughly exercised the site before its delivery. Try to break it—you’ll strengthen it.
Do you have an unlimited, unrestricted global license to your agency’s work for your website? Though you might expect to own your website, agencies can’t give ownership of intellectual property they don’t possess. Websites are typically built on open source software, which an agency can’t resell. You should have a license that allows you to print or redistribute merchandise, documents, and other branded items freely.
Be cautious if you pay an agency for indefinite maintenance or a retainer. These types of contracts aren’t as common as they once were. Our policy is to have you approach us when you need work done. You pay for what you get when you need it. If you have an ongoing financial commitment, make sure that it offers you sufficient value.
Follow these best practices to foster resilience for your online operations. If a major change occurs, you’ll be able to keep things running smoothly.
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