Who owns your website?

You’ve completed the design and development portion of your new website. You’re excited to show everyone the new look, and the web design company you’re working with is ready to pull the trigger.

But hold on – what happens now?

The upfront cost of the site design is probably what you considered the most when choosing a web developer, but do you remember evaluating what happens after launch?

Avoiding the Trap

There’s probably an ongoing cost associated with hosting your website. For a small- to mid-size company, you probably have a marketing site, maybe with a contact form and a blog. In this situation, a hosting provider doesn’t have to do much as far as maintenance goes.

If you’re a larger company or you have a more complicated site (like e-commerce or a membership directory), you’ll probably expect to pay a little more per month so your site remains secure and functional.

And, ideally, if for whatever reason you’re unhappy with the service or work like e-commerce by the web design company you’ve worked with on the new site, and you don’t want to host it with them anymore, you should be able to take your site and host it somewhere else…right?

Here’s where some companies fall into what we at Happy Medium call “The Trap.”

The Trap is when you work with a company to build a new website but you get stuck paying them ridiculous monthly or annual costs. Additionally, your site is “stuck” on their servers because of a proprietary server language (or, even worse, the company claims to “own” the rights to your website).

Here are some warning signs – and these are good things to ask a company before having them build your website:

”What software will you be using to build and host my website?”

Safe answers will include terms like “open source” or industry-standard website languages like ASP/.NET, PHP, and Node.js.

Look out for responses like “ColdFusion” or “It doesn’t really matter.” ColdFusion is an outdated, proprietary technology on its way out. Not to mention, it’s expensive to even host a ColdFusion site ($1,500 to download the software, where open-source Apache is free).

And of course it matters what software your site is built with and how it is hosted. It’s your site, right? Make sure you know what you’ll be getting in the end.

”How much will it cost to host my site?”

For a small- to mid-size company with a simple marketing or brochure site, you should never spend more than $50 per month to have your site hosted (and that’s on the high end). Often times, if you’re stuck with an outdated or proprietary server software, a company will try to stick you with a $100+ per month hosting fee.

That’s about $1,200 per year. Why would you pay that much to simply make your site run?

”Can I move my website to another company or host at any point?”

Here’s another place where you might be caught off-guard: your site has your content on it, and you want to take it somewhere else – it could be because you’re not happy with the service or you simply want another development company to add a feature to the site.

Some web hosting companies will try to charge you a “data retrieval” fee. A fee – just to retrieve your own data from your own site? Something’s not right.

And, again, if your site is running on outdated software like ColdFusion, you’re going to have a hard time finding a cheaper or more friendly, open-source server that can host your site without doing a complete rewrite of the code.

To the Rescue

We’re tired of hearing about businesses getting “trapped” by other web hosting companies into paying for old, outdated, and expensive servers.

And we’re sick of hearing about how companies got lured into paying a small up-front fee for a website design but then got robbed in monthly hosting costs.

Seriously: we build our client websites so that, upon launch, they are 100% owned by the client. That means they can be moved to any other host at the client’s will (though that hasn’t happened yet).

In addition to a very reasonable monthly hosting cost, we write most of the website code using open-source languages which are well-supported in the developer community. This means that any developer, whether in-house at your company or here at Happy Medium – will be able to extend and edit the website code for future needs.