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Blog: article

Website support - subject to the Lance Armstrong syndrome?

18 2013

by Nigel Harding

We used to so admire the guy so much, a great cycling champion who battled against cancer but now that his admission of using banned substances has been confirmed there is a tendency to be suspicious of all cyclists and sportsmen, which is a great shame as there is a lot to be excited about if you support British cycling. In a similar vein, I have found a lot of business owners who have had an unsatisfactory relationship with their web designer and they find that receiving ongoing support is an issue. Our company has picked up a lot of disaffected clients and they are often suspicious of or very careful about who they work with in the future. So what is the key to having a good, trustworthy relationship with your web designer or developer? In this article I’d like to set out some issues that need to be addressed and set the scene for some mutual understanding…

Website owners are understandably very budget conscious but to use an old adage you generally “get what you pay for” . If you screw down your web designer to an absolute minimal cost then he or she will be unlikely to do anything above and beyond the absolute minimum requirement and that may then be perceived as a lack of support. It is important to formalise expectations in a clear written agreement or proposal. Areas that I suggest need to be covered are:

Will there be any instructions or training offered? If so, how much? This should be quantified.

Will any bugs that come to light be fixed by the developer free of charge?

Will you get a period of “free” support after go-live? Perhaps 1 month?

What happens if a new browser comes along and your website is not compatible? This may require an extra level of support that needs to be paid for.

If you require ongoing software upgrades to a content system or plugins (normally required to stay ahead of security issues in e.g. WordPress or Joomla) then what is the plan? A major point release of WordPress or Joomla may have a knock on effect that plugins may not work, design templates may need to be reworked etc. An agreement will need to be undertaken to cover this situation.

What happens if your site gets hacked or attacked by a virus? You will probably need to agree support for this possibility and determine who is responsible for keeping backups.

It is important to have a clear sign-off plan. When a website is delivered there has to be an acknowledged completion stage. At this stage it should be clear what are the agreements about support levels on offer.

So, my recommendation to website owners is to consider these support issues when engaging with a web design company. Some companies may deserve their “Lance Armstrong” reputation but there are companies out there who understand the importance of ongoing support and you should definitely check this out when making any website decisions.