What does taking control of your web business mean? You decide who you work with, you decide where you spend your money, you decide your approach, and you’re in charge of your assets.
Businesses have so many choices when it comes to web development, that it drives the industry to be better. But like any industry, if you don’t have a handle on it then it might cost you, and your business might suffer. At times the development of your website might not work out, and it can leave you tearing your hair out.
In this post we explain how to ensure you’re in control of your assets and some of the things to look out for, so you don’t get burnt.
Your business assets and what you need to know
Everyone who has a website needs to have some basic knowledge as to how they operate, if you don’t you’re running the risk of being shafted by whoever’s steering the ship. So here’s a list of some of the things you should have control of and what they are:
Your domain account can be joint with your web-hosting account(explained next), but it’s important that you know the difference. Your domain account basically gives you the rights or the title to a certain domain name which is registered through authorised registrars. Our domain name www.8wiredigital.co.nz is registered with a registrar so that we can use and control it, that registration is renewed annually (sometimes you can renew them for several years). Everytime someone clicks on the link to our website the settings on that domain account instructs their browser where to look or what to do. Everytime someone sends an email to email@example.com, that domain account tells those emails where to go and what to do.
This is another account you subscribe to where your website is physically stored. Think of it as a usb stick or a group of files stored on your own computer. The only difference is that the group of files (your website) can be accessed over the internet by anyone that knows the address and you pay for that account on an annual basis. Sometimes your hosting account can be joined together with your domain account which makes life a little simpler. But even still, you should know that you have an account for hosting (storing your website somewhere)
Often attached to your web-hosting account for free. Typically you can create e-mails through our hosting account if you like, all with different degrees of access, many can be setup using a client like outlook and work perfectly fine. Nowadays a lot of businesses choose to use an additional platform for their emails such as gmail, requiring a separate account, and that’s where you should have a handle on things. We use gmail for our business email accounts and it’s extremely simple to setup and manage through google business apps, if you know how to use gmail then you won’t have any trouble setting it up yourself. Should you require someone else to set it up for you, just make sure you are the owner of the account.
Webmaster tools & google analytics
Webmaster tools and google analytics are free accounts which are extremely easy to setup. While you don’t necessarily need to understand these you should as the business operator have control of them as assets. They concern the health, data and functioning of your website, now and into the future. If you’re serious about the future of your web business and want to ensure everything is smooth sailing, make sure you are the administrator on these accounts. Even if your developer has to set it up for you.
How to avoid getting burnt
Take control of your assets
We often see businesses butting heads with their developers over access to their accounts that control their website. This should never be an issue but unfortunately it is a lot of the time. As a business owner or someone that’s responsible for the website of your respective business, you should have administrative control to all of the above accounts. Should your company require services from a third party, decide they wish to change developers or if the owner of those accounts suddenly disappears for whatever reason. You might find yourself with serious problems if you can’t take control of them.
You may pay an agency or a developer to look after your assets, and that’s absolutely fine and at times might be the best way to be. But make sure you are in control of the assets, at the end of the day it’s your business
Demand Transparency of costs
Know exactly what you’re paying for. Your hosting, your domain account, your e-mail account etc. You might find you’re paying a lot more on top of the market rate for some of those assets with no explanation as to why. Sadly we see businesses paying extortionate rates for cheap web-hosting and website services when they’re completely oblivious to the fact their developer is adding margins on top for no reason. Yes, there might be very valid reasons for the charges, so find out what you’re actually paying for. If you’re in charge of your assets you’ll know the costs already but if you’re not, better get on top of it. Lastly, you should be able get a pretty good grasp of market rates by just searching the web.
Choose a suitable platform
You need to know your business is in good hands for the years to come. You should always have the control of your businesses future, and it shouldn’t be determined by your development agency. That means you should get a good understanding of what you’re buying into and the platform your website will be built on.
Some businesses will claim to have created the latest and greatest website platform on the market, and that could be true. However, the alarm bells should be ringing when you hear this sort of talk, challenging the market should be encouraged yet you must understand there are platforms available around the world that are already brilliant, if you’re getting into bespoke websites you must be aware of the potential risks. When it comes to proprietary systems and custom built platforms, you should know that when those developers fall over or are unavailable, who’s is going to help you with your website? What happens when upgrades are required? Where does all the support come from?
If you get a custom built website made, or a website made by a developer on their “own ” platform, you’re essentially locked into business with that developer no matter what. Should you ever wish to change you’re probably going to have to start again.
To Sum it all Up
Educating yourself and getting your head around how it all works is the key to ensuring you’re in control of your business. It’s so easy when you get started to sit back and let a developer take care of everything for you. Even if that is the case, get on top of your assets and make sure you’re given the keys when your assets are setup
Make sure you have control to ensure the smooth operation, the flexibility, and the future of your business. If you’re going with a developer who provides you with their own platform, be aware of the potential risks. You don’t want to get locked into an arrangement only to find you’re left with one option down the track. Building another new website