Over the last six to seven years that MVP has been building websites for their customers, we’ve seen some situations that might raise a concern for you and your website. Here are a few key points that any website owner should know:
- Buying a Domain is the first step in building a website. These can be purchased from a number of reputable sources. Know where your domain is being purchased from and make sure to have it registered in your name and that you have the login credentials to access the Registrar account used to purchase it.
Why worry about this? Over the years, people come and go. Businesses start and fail. It is entirely possible that if you hire someone to purchase a domain for you, some years later, they may move, go out of business, or otherwise become unreachable. You need to know where your domain resides and how to access the account.
- Using WordPress – We recommend, and use WordPress.org specifically, because it provides a user-friendly CMS (Content Management System) that allows the end-user (customer) to make changes easily and most times without the need for a web developer.
What to watch out for: Some web developers have “cut their teeth” on building websites using programming code. Even when using WordPress, they are sometimes more comfortable using their background in coding to add a particular feature or function than they are using a relevant plugin or some other native function of WordPress to achieve the same or similar result. This can end up becoming a problem when new version updates are made to the site. Potentially, updates may fail because of custom code that was applied to core WordPress files that will cause the new version of the plugin/theme or even WordPress itself to not function. These things can actually take your site down. This requires you to hire a web developer to modify the code that was put in to be compatible with the new release or latest update. Multiply this by a number of plugins, changes and the frequency of regular updates, and you can see the possible ramifications of those actions. The bottom line is, WordPress, along with the right plugins, can do most anything without customizing the core PHP code. If your developer is adding code to your site, make sure you ask them to document it thoroughly.
- Theme, Plugins and Add-On licenses? There are many free themes and thousands of free plugins that help make WordPress a very flexible and functional web development platform. However, some themes and plugins are paid and require annual license fees. When paid themes or plugins are needed, some developers (including MVP) include the license fees for these items as a benefit when you contract for web maintenance through them.
What to know: Here at MVP, when we use paid themes or plugins, we fully disclose the fact that we are using them and what the cost of the licensing is, so that in the event a client wishes to maintain the site themselves or have someone else maintain it, they know what the cost of the ongoing license fees are that they become responsible for. Make sure you know your licensing exposure.
- Hosting – You hire someone to design a website for you and they host it on their own server, or in a shared server environment that they rent from a hosting company, which they use for all their clients.
What’s wrong with this? What if you want to move the site? Gaining login and password credentials to your site can be problematic because if it is hosted on the same server with other client sites that share the same login/password information, the developer who is doing the hosting may not want to provide these credentials. This means that you do not have enough control over your site to provide this information to a new web vendor. You are stuck having to work through your existing vendor (which sometimes can be touchy) to coordinate this activity.
Make sure that when you build or update a website that you have all the information you need to make good business decisions regarding your investment. Ask questions related to the above items and based upon the answers you get, it’s up to you to make the decision to use, or not to use, a particular vendor.
Here at MVP, we provide a completely autonomous installation and if you need login/password access to any or all components of your installation, you’ll get that information with no questions asked. Because that’s the way it should be.