Your contract has expired or the website company you’re currently using has decided they no longer want to support your contract. Great. What happens now?
You manage to work your way through all of the digital lingo and are still lost. Maybe you manage to find a new web company that does exactly what you’re looking for.
They review your “code” and come back with “We can’t use this, we’re going to have to rebuild it.” Your heart immediately drops.
This is the case for many businesses as they decide, or are forced, to switch website companies (digital vendors, web companies, etc.). It’s an unfortunate reality businesses are faced with. There are a lot of vendors out there that fail to document what they’ve done, that develop the website on a propriety closed-source system or even just don’t spend the necessary time during the Quality Control (QC) phase.
As a business owner, manager or employee who chooses to go with a specific website company (vendor), you should check and demand, that basic principles are being followed so you don’t end up with these problems:
1.) They haven’t documented everything
Make sure that the company has provided you with ample documentation on the system. This may increase the upfront costs, but it will save you a lot of money down the road. If the next website company (digital vendor) is handed a bunch of jumbled code with no documentation, they’re likely going to have to rebuild portions of it.
Documentation will save you time, money and hair. Yes, otherwise it will fall out from stress.
2.) The documentation hasn’t been checked
Don’t take your vendor’s word for it. Ask for the documentation. Make sure it’s in your contract. The following are all standard:
- Inline code documentation
- Unified Modeling Language (UML) Diagrams
- User flowcharts
- Relational Database Diagrams (ER Model)
- Software used to support your site
I realize that some of these are technical terms and that they may have lost you. Use the links to find out more or just copy and paste them in an email. Your choice.
Don’t trust the vendor, follow up behind them. It’s inconvenient but necessary.
3.) The system is not open-source
I will vehemently admit that I am an advocate for open-source software. One of the reasons is that companies, large and small, make the mistake of choosing vendors that will lock them into a closed-source proprietary system. When that happens, your company is reliant upon that website company to do everything for you. If they say no, or if they decide to discontinue your contract — you’re up a creek without a paddle.
WordPress and Drupal are great Content Management Systems (CMS) that will help you avoid this. Instead of having one company who knows your product, you’ll have hundreds of thousands of website developers that will be able to help.
Open-source can save you a lot of money. Hundreds of thousands of web developers instead of one.
4.) The website company hasn’t been held responsible
When your business is issuing their contract, put it in the language that it must be developed on an open-source system and fully documented. It will help you out in the long run.
If you’re having trouble evaluating a potential vendor, partner or website company please contact us. We can help to make sure that everything is being done properly. So in the end, you won’t walk away empty-handed.