Not all relationships work out – including professional relationships. When it's time to go separate ways, there is a right and a wrong way to go about it.
Avoiding confrontation might seem like the easiest way to end things, but a relationship with a website company isn’t like a casual dating relationship. After all, you have a website together. If your relationship includes dependents, ghosting—breaking off a relationship by disappearing from communication—isn’t really an option.
Don't ghost your website services provider.
You wouldn’t accept a marriage proposal before telling your current partner that you were thinking about seeing other people (at least we sure hope you wouldn’t). In the same way, it's not a great idea to leave your current website services provider without warning.
A simple phone call will save you a headache and some heartache (if you have a super loyal web company). Communicating with your website provider before moving your services will save you from these common mistakes:
1. Losing valuable support and services.
If your new suitor is offering a much lower bid than what you're paying for now, it may be too good to be true. Some fact checking with the new web designer could save you from losing important features that make your website successful. Ask your current and potential website providers if their price includes the following services:
- Responsive design. In 2018, all websites should display well on desktop computers, tablets, and mobile phones. When you get a bid for a website design, check if mobile and responsive design is included or if you will need to pay for that separately.
- Search engine optimization (SEO). This controls how your website appears and ranks in search engines. Without it, your site will have trouble competing on the web and drawing in potential customers. Compare prices and offerings for both companies' initial and ongoing SEO services. Some cheap options ignore or auto-generate meta descriptions and titles. Make sure you can customize how your pages appear in search results.
- Site access and training. When you pay for a new website, you should actually own the final product. Web design companies that refuse to give you access to your website often do so to force you to be dependent on them. Ask about website training and a summary of what you will be able to do yourself once the website is launched and what only they can do. Each content management system has a different degree of difficulty, so don't be afraid to request a demo to see what you're getting into.
- Maintenance and support. Some web design agencies will build you a website … and then never talk to you again. If a trendy design is all you're looking for, this may not bother you. However, at some point you will probably need to change your business address, update your content, or access your DNS information. A cheap web design gets really expensive when each phone call or 5-minute change costs hundreds of dollars. Hire a company who prioritizes customer service and provides a plan for ongoing maintenance.
As you compare web companies, you may also want to ask about other services the company provides. If you are looking to outsource logo design, social media, and copywriting, you may want an agency that can help you with all your online marketing, not just web design.
Avoid a “Piña Colada” moment by asking your current provider if they offer additional services before putting out a lonely hearts ad about your website woes. You might be surprised at just how well-suited they already are for your needs.
2. Creating broken links.
Each page on your website has a unique URL that ties it to search engines, and when you build a new site, URLs often change and the old URLs—ones still online and still used by your audience!—will no longer link to pages on your new site. If anyone clicks on the old URL in search engine listings, they will be directed to an error page.
Broken links and missing pages are extremely frustrating to users and make your business look unprofessional.
However, errors can easily be avoided if you redirect the old URL to a URL on the new website. Redirects are a basic service provided by most website designers. If redirects are not included in your new contract, your new design will not work properly and your website will most likely decrease in popularity.
The company that builds the new website is responsible for setting up redirects before they launch, so be sure to have that conversation with your current and potential website agencies before dumping your current site.
Do you need a breakup?
If you are in a bad relationship with your company, they never answer your calls, don’t give you control of your content or design, or can't provide the additional online marketing services you need, it may be time to have the tough conversation.
When you call, you could try to salvage the relationship by telling your sales rep how your website or marketing needs have changed. This will give them a chance to offer a solution that would work better than your current contract.
If you can't work something out, you may need to start looking for someone who is a better fit, but don’t burn the bridge yet! If you don't tell your web services company before you switch providers, they have no way to help you make it a smooth transition. You'll need to talk to them at some point to cancel your service and tie up some loose ends anyway, so do it early on.
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If you prefer a conversation over reading, give us a call to discuss your current website performance, your online marketing needs in the future, and what services you should be looking for in a web design or digital marketing agency.