This is why I am ashamed to call myself a Web Designer …

There are some web design companies out there that give us all a bad name. It makes me feel terrible when potential new clients come to me with tales of woe and unfairness. All I can do each time this happens is apologise for the ethics of some companies out there and give reassurances that we really aren’t like that.

Unfortunately it seems to happen all too often. This happened to a new client of mine recently and I wanted to share this story with you in the hopes that it is something you can avoid happening to you one day …

My client was unhappy with the website that she had built with another company. She’d worked hard on the content and the site was ranking really well locally – but the site itself was difficult to update and the company that made it for her was unresponsive and difficult to communicate with when she needed to make a change to the site. So she got in touch with us (we met through a fab local networking group called ABW) and asked us to have a go at redesigning the site for her in WordPress so she could update and add pages as and when she needed to without having to beg and plead and generally be at the mercy of this other company.

So we got in touch with the other company and asked that our client had requested us to take over the hosting and design of her site and could they please transfer the domain name over to us. They declined to comment to us directly but got in touch with our client with a rude email which stated that they weren’t at all happy as they had already renewed her contract (against her wishes) for another year, and to add insult to injury thy were not going to let her move her website address away from them unless she paid them £100 for the privilege of taking control of her own domain name.

Now bear in mind my client doesn’t have a massive budget for her site, she has a small home based business that can’t justify large overheads for a website, she also had no idea that she would have troubles transferring her domain name should she choose to get another company to host or work on her site for her. So she was faced with one of the following three terrible choices:

  • Putting up with this company for another year and not being able to really add content or pages to her site therefore limiting her business marketing opportunities.
  • Biting the bullet and paying their ransom fee and moving her site over to us.
  • Give up totally on her current website address and start a fresh website hoping that she could build similar rankings of her current one.

Option three is obviously devastating as she’d have to lose her email address as well as her website address and start from absolute scratch – lots of work and years of effort down the pan.

Option one obviously would make you feel very bitter and twisted …

Which leaves us with option two – however she really didn’t have a massive budget so the transfer costs combined with our fee to build a website was just out of her reach.

So as an act of good faith and as a ‘pay it forward’ gesture we agreed to discount the cost of her site by £100 so she could afford to remove herself from their contract.

She was of course amazingly grateful and asked why would you do that for me? I just know that not all web development companies out there are like the one she trusted to work with before, in the small hopes that we can put some good intentions back into the industry before the industry gets branded as untrustworthy mercenaries.

So how do you avoid getting yourself in a similar situation?

Keep your domain registration (website address) separate from hosting

Register your domain name (web address ie with a different company than the one you have hosting your website. We recommend someone like 123 reg because they are reasonably priced and you have access to control the setting of where your website should point to at your discretion.

This way no one can hold you over a barrel and make you remain their customer against your will.

Just to be contrary … we actually offer our customers both services but we’re not as cheap as companies like 123 reg as it’s admin for us and we’re a small company etc. But for some of our clients it takes the worry away and that’s fair enough. Just to be perfectly clear though we would never deny you access to your domain if you want to leave us for another company …