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pj321

Is it time to leave our web designer? This seems like we're being overcharged...

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(Please let me know if this should be on a different board... I wasn't sure where to post it)
I started helping a friend with his new business, handling social media, marketing, etc. It is a brand new business, and he was talked into a domain name by his web designer, that doesn't have anything to do with his brand name. He doesn't like it, and decided to purchase a domain name this week that includes his brand name. He prefers it to be related to the name of the business, rather than a random domain name that is more of a tagline. An example would be that she recommended a domain name of buildhappy.com for a business that is called Jones Construction. He feels that the domain name that she chose is not consistent with the brand he wants to build and have it recognizable. The business is only a month old, and this designer has also started a google ads campaign, along with claiming his Google business page. She also opened a facebook & instagram page with the usernames showing as the unwanted domain name, so that when he follows someone on Instagram, it says "buildhappy" started following you, rather than JonesConstruction started following you. He didn't realize how much confusion this would cause when the first domain name was chosen, and he does not want to move forward with it.

He informed the designer that he would like the website to now use the new domain name, and asked her to redirect old domain name to the new one. He has already paid thousands of dollars for the web design. 

Here is her response:" In regard to your domain name request, the reality is, anything is possible with more time and money. That being said, it is our mission to assist our clients in making informed decisions. I have included some helpful resources for your consideration. The attached screenshot is of a Google search which was tested on December 13th. The search confirms that Google is ranking (yourwebsite.com) as number one in search engine results. We are very excited about this, as it is truly a benchmark! Believe it or not, your brand now has monetary value and you could sell it for thousands of dollars, if you like. 

Terms and Conditions

  • Domain Name Redirect: $300.00 

  • Domain Name Change: $500.00 

  • Engagement requires an advance payment in full, please.

  • The work shall be complete within 1 week from the date of receipt of payment.

Please let us know how you would like to proceed, ASAP.  "

I feel that she is being manipulative telling him that his brand has monetary value to sell for thousands of dollars, when she isn't even using his brand as the domain name. I'm also concerned that he feels that his site is held hostage by a controlling web designer. She purchased the unlikeable domain name, and she is hosting his site. He has no access at all to any of it, nor to his Google analytics & Google business page.

Should he proceed with her, or would he be able to take the site from her and move forward on with own choice of hosting? Is she required to give him the site and old domain name? It seems to me that she is overcharging for his recent request.

Any advice? Is it overcharging, or is this the norm? We would appreciate any input so we can decide how to move forward.

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They are overcharging.

The domain name is worth nothing.

Setting up a redirect takes seconds. moving the whole site over to the new domain (rather than a redirect) takes a few minutes. Most developers will do this for free because it's so quick and simple.

Spending money on adwords is pointless as are the facebook and instagram pages.

He also needs to get control of the hosting and any accounts.

If you want to send me a PM I will take a look at the site and tell you if it was worth the thousands of dollars they paid for it.

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Wow, ok, a bit of a pickle, there's multiple parts here and I'm trying to wrap my head round some of it.

The Website & Hosting

Can I just check he has bought and paid for a website built by this designer, it's currently under 'buildhappy.com' (will call it that) and it's live? And the designer currently hosts the site and controls the domain buildhappy.com? So long as this is the case and there is no weird clause in the contract about moving hosts you should be able to request the site be migrated to another host and the domain buildhappy.com transferred into an account you control (stick it where JonesConstruction.com is).

There might be a small fee (one hour is normal min charge) from the designer to migrate, but there are hosts who offer a free migration service. If there's a paid SSL this would also need to be configured on the new server. This will put you in a position to say "jog on" to the designer at a later date and there's nothing they can do about it.

Domain Migration

This is a bit of an odd pricing setup, they don't define what either is and to be honest I don't consider them separate things, so I will call it $800 for domain migration. Without knowing the ins and outs of what this will include it's hard to tell. If it's to simply to set up JonesConstruction.com as the hosting, and redirect buildhappy.com to JonesConstruction.com it's overpriced, sure there could be an SSL on top if it was paid for (pretty sure it's issued to the domain and is not transferable), but not $800 dollars worth. But, they could also mean updating all the business listings they might have set up as well, you'll need to know what's included.

The Rest

Without knowing the original contract I can really comment on whether the designer has overstepped the mark or if it was in their agreement. Did they say they would set up social accounts, Google Business etc for him? Also Google Ads, if it's paid advertising was it agreed with a budget and targets discussed?

Normally with a new business I setup a main Google Account with them and then add myself as an admin. I found this works the best in the long run, if me and a client separate they retain full control of everything. Also it gives them the same information as I have so they can see progress as things get done. This is how they should have set things up with you IMO, I suggest you set up a Google account if you don't already have one and look at what needs to be moved over to you.

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Thank you so much for your replies.  She is still messaging us today trying to tell us that brand related domain names are equally friendly in the social media landscape. Not sure why she is trying to bully my friend into keeping a domain name that he's not happy with. She's trying to convince him that it's better for some reason. It's a silly name and one that he does not want to keep. Especially in the construction industry, he'd rather have brand name consistency, and not try to be creative with a tagline title & domain name. 

I know he definitely needs to get control of his hosting and other accounts, so hopefully we can get that taken care of right away.

When you mentioned "Spending money on adwords is pointless as are the facebook and instagram pages." What do you mean? Should he not be using adwords yet? As far as Facebook is concerned, our local communities seem to use it a lot for finding local businesses & recommendations. We received great feedback on our grand opening announcement, with over 80 likes & 30 comments on the ribbon cutting photo, and over 6000 organic views. Seems like a good way to get the name out into the community. Do you mean that the name on the Facebook url doesn't matter? 

At this point, I'm not sure the first steps to go forward. The new domain name was already purchased on godaddy. Do we just have her transfer the old domain name & hosting of the website to his godaddy account? Also, I believe it's a Wordpress site, so he would need the login info on that, and then have the ability to remove her as an admin? 

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I would suggest it's a clash of fashion vs old school company name. The designer sort of has a point, a lot easier to remember buildhappy.com vs mrjonesandsonconstructionandnewbuild.com, really does depend on the company name. They might also be looking at it from a home extensions and renovations point, i'm not sure if you're predominately a commercial or domestic business, how you approach it depends who the target audience is. Also you need to take into account where the designer is from, locality makes a big difference on how things are worded and the approach you take. I'm not jumping to a strangers defence, more that there's often things we don't consider before call people out.

43 minutes ago, pj321 said:

When you mentioned "Spending money on adwords is pointless as are the facebook and instagram pages." What do you mean? Should he not be using adwords yet? As far as Facebook is concerned, our local communities seem to use it a lot for finding local businesses & recommendations. We received great feedback on our grand opening announcement, with over 80 likes & 30 comments on the ribbon cutting photo, and over 6000 organic views. Seems like a good way to get the name out into the community. Do you mean that the name on the Facebook url doesn't matter?

Adwords, Facebook, any paid advertising ... general rule of thumb is where do your potential clients hang out? Second consider what you want the outcome of the interaction to be? Likes != Conversion I think is what @fisicx was pointing out, 10k followers != sales.

43 minutes ago, pj321 said:

At this point, I'm not sure the first steps to go forward. The new domain name was already purchased on godaddy. Do we just have her transfer the old domain name & hosting of the website to his godaddy account? Also, I believe it's a Wordpress site, so he would need the login info on that, and then have the ability to remove her as an admin? 

Hosting is not the same as domain registrar, the two are often completely different. If the site is WordPress then someone else here will be able to comment on access, but I would say you need admin rights to the WP install before it's possible to migrate as you wish. You can keep the domains anywhere but i hear good things about SiteGround on WP hosting, HTTP/2 as standard. Pretty sure if you explain the situation they would help you take control, migrate and keep it up to date.

 

Edit: Forgot to ask what dollars are we talking? e.g. USD, AUD?

Edited by BrowserBugs

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We definitely realize that it is a clash of fashion vs old school company name. He said she has been pushing the more creative name since the beginning, and the new domain name he purchased is similar to JonesKitchenBath.com. He handles residential construction in the Boston area, and the web designer is from California, now living nearby. He said she is definitely more "artsy" and is trying to build her portfolio. It seems like she cares more about her own view, rather than what the customer is looking for. Our area is more old school, and his customer base trusts people by their name & experience. He has been in the business for 30 years, and he wants people to realize that this new kitchen & bath store is part of his brand. When it comes down to it, he really just wants to handle it more traditionally, and stick to his name brand across the board. I guess that's why I feel strongly that she isn't listening to her customer & his needs. 

Also, as far as cost... I'm concerned that her prices are higher than most, and it may be best to break ties with her or every little change may end up costing too much in the future. 

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Hmm, ok, I've a few clients who run off the experience and known name, if going down this path definitely play the "Established in ..." marketing direction but you've probably already thought of that. Also answers all my USD vs AUD points :)

9 minutes ago, pj321 said:

Also, as far as cost... I'm concerned that her prices are higher than most, and it may be best to break ties with her or every little change may end up costing too much in the future. 

Agreed, but i find any position where someone has you by the plums it's best to err on the side of caution. Last thing anyone needs is the designer throwing their toys out the pram. So, sneaky way where they will be compliant is if their hosting is inferior to SiteGround and their data centre locations; does the current host offer the following?

Capture.PNG.bdb7a8857fd72047310da9ffb9a78a7a.PNG

If not there are just grounds to migrate without knocking their nose out of joint. I find not poking a bear with a stick untill needed saves conflict in the long run.

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Yes, we're definitely feeling cautious about not poking the bear! Thanks for your points about the features that SiteGround offers. I really appreciate all of your advice! Thanks for your time & helping me talk through everything :) 

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But back to your initial concern.

Unless you have control of the site, hosting and other accounts this relationship is never going to end well.

They are certainly over charging for their services and the domain name is all wrong for your business.

The reason why FB and Instagram are pointless is because you haven't yet established the site, sorted the marketing strategy, chosen keywords and a zillion other things. Same with adwords. Even moreso in this case as you need dedicated adwords landing pages for then to be effective. You can't just point your adverts at a standard page on the site if you want to convert well.

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9 minutes ago, fisicx said:

But back to your initial concern.

Unless you have control of the site, hosting and other accounts this relationship is never going to end well.

They are certainly over charging for their services and the domain name is all wrong for your business.

The reason why FB and Instagram are pointless is because you haven't yet established the site, sorted the marketing strategy, chosen keywords and a zillion other things. Same with adwords. Even moreso in this case as you need dedicated adwords landing pages for then to be effective. You can't just point your adverts at a standard page on the site if you want to convert well.

Understand where you're coming from but until the domain, hosting and such is under their control the rest is speculative at best. Estabish the site = solid foundations moving forward.

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@BrowserBugs has given you some great answers but I'll chime in with a few more comments:

6 hours ago, pj321 said:

Thank you so much for your replies.  She is still messaging us today trying to tell us that brand related domain names are equally friendly in the social media landscape. Not sure why she is trying to bully my friend into keeping a domain name that he's not happy with. She's trying to convince him that it's better for some reason. It's a silly name and one that he does not want to keep. Especially in the construction industry, he'd rather have brand name consistency, and not try to be creative with a tagline title & domain name. 

At the end of the day customers won't care less what the domain name is, though if it's easy to remember and type out that's a bonus. It's worth remembering that links posted on social media will generally either display the page title + text description, or a shortcut link name like bit.ly/xcvbnml - rarely do the show the actual domain name.

6 hours ago, pj321 said:

I know he definitely needs to get control of his hosting and other accounts, so hopefully we can get that taken care of right away.

I can't count the times I've come across 3rd parties holding a clients domain and hosting "hostage". Hope you can get access easily!

6 hours ago, pj321 said:

At this point, I'm not sure the first steps to go forward. The new domain name was already purchased on godaddy. Do we just have her transfer the old domain name & hosting of the website to his godaddy account? Also, I believe it's a Wordpress site, so he would need the login info on that, and then have the ability to remove her as an admin? 

Domains can easily be transferred between accounts, takes a couple of minutes to do. If you transfer to a different registrar there may be a small fee (probably $10-30) but that's well worth paying if she becomes difficult.

With hosting it's just a case of giving full access to the account. Once that is in place the site can be moved to any web host.

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12 hours ago, fisicx said:

Unless you have control of the site, hosting and other accounts this relationship is never going to end well.

That's a bit of a generalisation.  The agency I used to work at kept control of these things and it worked out far better for our clients - especially those who are not tech savvy, we made a decent but fair income out of it, in return they got a good service including maintenance and support - win/win.
If they had control over their websites it would have been a total $h*tshow.

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3 hours ago, rbrtsmith said:

That's a bit of a generalisation.  The agency I used to work at kept control of these things and it worked out far better for our clients - especially those who are not tech savvy, we made a decent but fair income out of it, in return they got a good service including maintenance and support - win/win.
If they had control over their websites it would have been a total $h*tshow.

We manage all this for our clients as well. We can't offer support with a random hosting provider, and clients historically have done all sorts like forget their account details and let domains expire. Many appreciate we just manage everything so they can actually get on with what they do. The only thing we don't offer is email, because it's not worth it, but we can setup Google Suite or Office 365 on their domain.

We're also able to offer a better service as a result. We have an amazing infrastructure for our sites, really good backup solutions and code deployment. We couldn't do any of this otherwise. I couldn't imagine managing 50+ separate hosting accounts with login details, setting up SSH keys, what a mess!

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I did say:

"Unless you have control of the site, hosting and other accounts this relationship is never going to end well."

That doesn't necessarily mean they manage everything themselves, it means that are able to at least login and see what's happening. In this situation the client doesn't have access to anything so if the relationship does go sour they can't even hand over to another developer.

And many developers don't want responsibility for managing hosting and domain name registration. I certainly don't. I ensure the domain name is registered in their name and paid for with their credit card using the registrar of their choice. In fact most of them have already registered the domain and a good number have got hosting already sorted.

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35 minutes ago, BrowserBugs said:

I can see your points  @rbrtsmith and @Jack - but I don't think either of the companies you work (worked) for would change $800 to switch a domain name, devils advocate and all that :) 

No, but I'd be interested to see the breakdown of that cost.

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8 hours ago, rbrtsmith said:

This.  I imagine there is more to that job than what the OP has suggested.

There's not more to the job. He just wants the domain name changed & to redirect any traffic from the old domain name since it's been in place for more than 3 months. The web designer is against the domain name change for some strange reason. She's weirdly possessive of the one that she chose and thinks it's the best one, and he feels that she is overcharging for this change because she just doesn't want to do it. She just doesn't have the same vision as the business owner, and it seems like it's best to cut ties with her and have access to his own site. Right now he can't even login to add photos or anything. He's afraid if he has too much conflict with her that she may hold his site hostage. 

Even her comments about his search engine ranking seems full of crap... 
"That being said, it is our mission to assist our clients in making informed decisions. I have included some helpful resources for your consideration. The attached screenshot is of a Google search which was tested on December 13th. The search confirms that Google is ranking (yourwebsite.com) as number one in search engine results. We are very excited about this, as it is truly a benchmark! Believe it or not, your brand now has monetary value and you could sell it for thousands of dollars, if you like."

When I looked at her screenshot, he came up #1 for the search phrase "build happy" (example)... and not for "kitchen remodeling", "kitchen design" etc.  His business is actually more like "JonesKitchenBath.com" and kitchens are his speciality. People aren't going to do a search for her creative (worse than "build happy", trust me) domain name keywords. We have no access to her ad campaign either, so we don't even know if she is even using the word "kitchen". Who cares if "build happy" is #1? Not much of a benchmark to me & it's not helping people who are looking for kitchen remodelers find him! Also, how would that mean he could sell it for thousands of dollars unless someone wanted those specific words? 

I don't think she knows much about SEO if she thinks that changing his domain name will hurt his site in the long run. It will only hurt her silly domain name and useless keyword search. 

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22 hours ago, Jack said:

No, but I'd be interested to see the breakdown of that cost.

it is shown in my original post... the website is complete, we are only asking to change the domain name and she is charging $800 USD to have it put under the domain name that he wanted to begin with. She keep sending him articles about why to choose a creative domain name, but we don't understand why she's trying to push this so hard. 

  • Domain Name Redirect: $300.00 

  • Domain Name Change: $500.00 

Edited by pj321

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If that is all they are doing then the cost is very hight.

Redirecting and changing the domain name are quick and easy. There should be no reason to charge more than an hour. If you had a login to the hosting you could set up a redirect in seconds.

It's a bit difficult to give really good advice without seeing the site.

As to her pushing the creative name, I suspect the problem is they don't know how to change the domain name or set up a redirect.

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