The PANIC response Blog
The Costliest Mistakes Businesses Make in IT
or: Crucial Business Strategies
That Will Save You Money
Number 1 in a series of some
We quoted a local security company to design a web site, but they decided that our price was too expensive and they went with a better offer which clearly we could not compete with if we were expected to produce a quality marketing tool for them. So the web designer hosted their web site for a year or so, but when they wanted to make changes to the phone numbers and staff details on the site, they found that he had left the country without a trace without leaving any password or access details to be able to make any changes.
So we were left to pick up the pieces, and we found a clever way to recreate all of the original files and have the domain name transferred to us so that we could host the web site on our servers. For the amount of work required to do this, we probably charged them around about the same amount they thought they had saved by using a cheaper web designer.
A few years go by, and I get a very strange email from the MD, asking me to remove all the images from the web site. I called him back and asked what he meant - did he want me to redesign the web site without graphics? No, he just wanted me to remove the images from the web site. But did he realise that would leave lots of "broken link" symbols on the web site and make it look quite bad? He didn't care, as long as all the images were removed. Well, my business consultant taught me that the customer is always right, even when they're wrong, so I obliged and awaited further instructions.
The full extent of the story revealed itself to me over the following few weeks. It turns out that one of the largest suppliers of stock photos commonly used for web sites and marketing materials had sent threatening letters, because their images were being used without their permission. It seems that the web developer from a few years before (remember him? The one who disappeared without a trace?) had simply copied images from other security firms' web sites and reused them without paying royalties or obtaining permission from the copyright holder.
The net result was that the security firm ended up settling for damages rather than face being taken to court. And the final bill?
...and do you know what the real kicker is? They didn't even try to negotiate the settlement down! Their solicitor just advised them to pay.
I suspect they didn't pay for a quality solicitor either!
So the next time you think you might save yourself £400 because a quality product might cost more than you had in mind, take the time to consider how making the wrong decision might affect you in the long term. When you add to that the extra value that a quality product could bring to your business, making the right decision becomes far easier.
When considering who to choose to build and host your web site, remember these important points:
- all content must either be your own, or you must have the permission of the copyright holder. That goes not just to use the photos, but also for the text on your web site as well. If you buy your content from a content provider, and plan to use the content in other marketing material such as brochures, posters and flyers, you might need to pay a separate royalty for each distinct use, so watch out for that small print. And if your web designer buys the photos for you, make sure you get evidence and file it somewhere safe for as long as those pictures are in use. Bear in mind that if you are quite happy with these images, and they become a part of your company identity, you might continue to use them much longer than the usual 7 years that you might hold on to most types of documents, so be sure that this crucial evidence is not destroyed with the rest of your documents once it reaches 7 years old.
- when considering hosting, ask yourself what could possibly go wrong if your host or web manager goes bust or disappears. The domain name you choose will probably also be used for sending and receiving email, so you will need access to it to change settings as your infrastructure grows or changes. Make sure you have login details to the control panel where you can make these changes, and ftp login details in case you need to make changes to details on the site. A .co.uk domain is less likely to be lost in the event of a problem with your existing host, but issues with .coms could be much more difficult to resolve. Finally, make sure you get a backup copy of all the files that make up the web site, because retrieving or reconstructing those files later can work out complicated, expensive, or sometimes even impossible!
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