I want you to imagine for a moment that you recently hired someone to build your website. You’ve already cut them a check for a portion of the work, several weeks have gone by, you’ve given them a great deal of content and gone back and forth about the project extensively.
And then, suddenly…
*cue lightning strike*
Your designer stops answering emails.
The calls to their cell start going straight to voicemail.
You suddenly realize that your designer isn’t going to call you back.
You’re halfway through a project, and now you’re stuck with a half-built website you can’t access and a great deal of wasted time and money.
What if my web designer quits and just disappears into the ether – How do I get my website finished?
It’s a totally legitimate concern. What if you start a project and part way through your designer is just… gone. They stop answering the phone, never return emails, and you turn up at their office and the place is empty.
You’ve lost your biggest client
Losing your biggest client is downright terrifying, but it’s important to focus on how you’ll keep working. We all have different expenses and circumstances, but I’ve got a few suggestions here …
It could happen. It DOES happen. Web development is no different than any other service industry where sometimes projects just run out of steam. You’re not the only person who’s asked themselves, after the second or third unanswered email, “what if my web designer quits?”
Maybe you picked the wrong contractor (*ahem* trying to pay someone a little shady to save a buck or two). Maybe you got hooked up with someone who misrepresents themselves. Or maybe you just plain get swindled.
Unfortunately, many potential disaster scenarios are out there—that’s why you have to protect yourself.
Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your business
There’s a very good reason why contracts were invented—a percentage of the population has no problem agreeing to do something and then moving permanently to another country. They’ve never asked the question, “what if my web designer quits” because they ARE the web designer who quits.
Thankfully, we have contracts (and other methods) of compelling scoundrels and scallywags into fulfilling their end of the bargain.
Here are some of the methods we use at Blue Steele Solutions to make sure everyone’s derriere is covered:
Put an agreement in place and make sure you understand and accept all the terms
Trust your gut: work with someone you trust
Check references! Speak with someone who has purchased a website from this designer
Look at multiple examples of their previous work to make sure they live up to their reputation
Leave something on the table by breaking your project into milestones with associated payments
Have access to the project as you make payments (this one can get a little tricky, but see what you can work out)
Most importantly, if your gut tells you something is wrong—if you even begin to ask yourself, “Is this person trustworthy? What if my web designer quits?” then GET OUT OF THERE
What if my web designer quits while working on a custom site? Here’s why using existing solutions is almost always a better choice
Should you code from scratch or a template?
It’s time to build a website, which means you’re about to take one of two paths: code from scratch or work from a template. Coding a website from scratch allows much more freedom and customization…
When you don’t need something that is truly 100% custom and built from the ground up (like a turnkey solution), you can save yourself some trouble by having your project developed on well-known architecture.
This method allows you to more quickly (and with far less expense) transition your project to a new designer in case yours goes missing.
Finally, if all else fails and the digital sky starts to fall, end the project as quickly as you can—save what you can save and get out while the gettin’ is good.
We love WordPress. We love it for more reasons than I can list here, but one of the top reasons is that it is WIDELY known, adopted, and supported.
If you get a fully custom site on some other platform (or no platform) and your designer bails, you could be SOL.
Somewhere around 25% of the internet runs on the WordPress content management system. If you start building a website on WordPress, and your designer drops out of the game, you will find literally thousands of people waiting to fill their shoes.
Not only that, but you can always count on a WordPress website being supported by a community of designers for a very long time. Being supported means the technology behind your website isn’t likely to become old and unused over time.
This is especially true if your website is developed on one of the more popular parent themes, like Genesis (which we use for all our sites). Parent themes, in general, have a great deal more support than a random free theme you might find lurking about the WordPress repository.
If you’re still unsure about what themes are or how to use them, take a look at our post on how to pick a theme.
Beyond the CMS (content management system, of which WordPress is one of many), work with your designer to make sure any frameworks, themes, and plugins they use are well known and supported as well. At Blue Steele Solutions, we use the Genesis Framework. It’s one of the most popular and well-supported parent themes available. If we got hit by a proverbial bus, our clients would have no problem finding Genesis designers to pick up and finish the job.
What if my web designer quits and moves permanently to eastern Europe? Find someone familiar with the platform to finish the job
When you set up with a new designer, make sure you cover all your bases this time through—you don’t want to be caught holding your hat in your hand asking, “What if my web designer quits again? What if my web designer quits answering emails? What if my web designer quits answering phone calls? What if my web designer leaves the country entirely and—
Stop. Just stop the anxiety train right there. Here’s how we prevent all that.
First, check references—speak, either on the phone or in person, with someone who has actually bought a website from this designer.
Make sure that both you and the designer know and agree to the scope of work, and realize you may need to pay for some discovery—who knows what your mad scientist previous designer left lying around in your website. It’s very possible that your new designer will have some cleaning up to do. Be prepared to cover this expense.
Finally, keep the lines of communication open and flowing more deeply than the rivers of Babylon. (Ok, maybe not that much flow) but seriously, keep regular contact, make sure you ask questions when you are unsure, and give the project the time and attention it needs to be successful.
And if the project goes awry, you have some advantages if you chose a local designer to work with. A local designer can be taken to small claims court if necessary, so you have some recourse if someone decides they don’t want to play nice.
No business decision is without risk—you’re always putting yourself out there when you make any sort of large purchase. However, if you do your homework, trust your instincts, and keep it local, you can minimize the risk of damage and, hopefully, end up with a smashing little website.
We do all our work on WordPress, a system that is not only widely supported and adopted (like 40ish percent of the Internet), but that also allows you to easily maintain your own website, with a bit of training of course. We build custom sites for customers on WordPress, but we also build our affordable website solution, LaunchPad, on the same powerful platform. LaunchPad allows our bootstrapping customers to get the smaller websites they need now with the built in capacity to scale their website as their business grows. Learn more at launchpadwp.com.
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