You may "think" you own your existing website but, not so fast! Sometimes the web-developer continues to hold the magic keys and when there are "issues" that can't be resolved they "own" it and can take it down.
Because your website is, most always, the first point of contact with consumers you need to make sure you hold the keys. Here are some quick tips:
- Ask the Question - When you're in development make sure you ask, "When we're done with this project do we have control over the site from updates to hosting?" And, get the answer in writing;
- Non-Profit Boards - I've been on hundreds and because they are made up of volunteers who have "real lives" often the record keeping is pretty bad. Make sure the "contract" or "agreement" is on-file and everybody has a copy;
- Cheap is Not Always Good - Non-profits (and many small businesses) don't have a pile of cash to invest into their website. However, cheap is still cheap and not always the best of solutions. Get some professional help. Your job is to run the non-profit mission or business not become a marketing professional;
- Document Unresolved Issues - If you already have a website and you've been experiencing slow updates, a developer who is always busy and doesn't have time to help make sure you document the interaction between your board and the developer. It keeps everybody in the loop and, if legal issues follow, you've got a record;
- Stay Professional - It can be frustrating to work with unresponsive firms but stuff gets "passed around" try, hard, to stay professional in your email conversations.
Each non-profit board member has a "friend in the business" and the member really wants to help. That's great but when it comes to business (and make no mistake your non-profit is a business) don't short-cut the decisions. It could all come back to bite you.