What do you do when you need changes at your company website? We probably need a flowchart here, but let’s look through the main situations in which you might need support for your websites, and the possible solutions.
When you build a new website, it’s important to determine who provides the support for your website. Either someone in your organization should take on the role of webmaster and take responsibility for the website, or you should hire a web firm to take care of the site for you.
Your web design firm might offer ongoing services, your web hosting company might provide those services, or you might choose a company like Haden Interactive.
But you may also have inherited a website with your new job or had one built at some time in the past and ignored it since then. Now you need something done. What should you do?
Is it broken?
The screenshot above shows a broken website.
If your website is broken — for example, it has bits of words on top of the pictures or it just looks crazy — then you probably need outside help. Your first choice should be the people who built it. If you can’t remember them, they’ve gone out of business, or it was your nephew and that’s probably part of the problem, then you should look for a web design firm. If your website was built years ago, it might be time for a redesign or a rebuild.
However, if you know who built it and are in touch with them, you should send them two things:
- A screenshot, so they’ll know what you’re seeing. Sometimes they won’t see the same thing you see, and “My website looks crazy” is not enough information. Mention the URL (web address) you’re looking at. If you use a PC, you can push CTRL+Print Scrn and then paste into Paint to get a screen shot.
- Information about the browser you’re using, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome. It’s also useful to know whether you’re using a PC or a Mac, a desktop computer or a tablet, and whether you have strong security on your network.
If you can’t get in touch with the people who built the site, try asking your web hosting company for help. They may be able to restore your website to an earlier version and solve the problem in that way.
You may also want to look for a new web firm and arrange for ongoing services. Maybe you were able to take care of your website for yourself in the past, but now you’re too busy. Admit it and find a trustworthy web management service.
Is it down?
If your website just doesn’t show up when you go to your web address, or you see an error message, you need to contact your web host. We know this can be easier said than done. Sometimes clients don’t know who their host is, don’t have the login information for the account someone at their company set up and prepaid ten years ago, and can’t get hold of anyone at the hosting company.
Be persistent. With determination, you can find the company and with luck you can get some help from them. It has been our experience that many hosting companies have terrible customer service, and it can take a lot of work to get someone’s help. Just keep at it. If you have a really terrible time, consider changing hosting companies.
Do you need to change information?
Sometimes you need to change an address, add a product, or remove a staff member’s picture. If you have a content management system (CMS), you can probably do it yourself. If you don’t remember how, call the people who built the site. If you’d prefer not to do it yourself, CMS or not, send them specific instructions about what you want changed, including the page on which you’d like the change to take place.
Some companies — including ours — will do quick fixes for free for our regular customers. Others charge by the hour, often with a minimum fee. If that’s the arrangement you have, it makes sense to gather up all the changes you want and send them at one time; if you’re going to pay for half an hour no matter what, you should get half an hour’s worth of work.
Whatever your arrangement, you should know ahead of time. You shouldn’t get a surprise bill for several hundred dollars when you thought all changes would be free forever. Chances are, you can’t always tell what’s a five minute job and what’s a five hour job, so you should ask for an estimate before the work begins.
Do you want design changes?
Some changes are like painting your door a new color, but some are like making your Victorian house into a Craftsman bungalow. The second kind of change is a redesign and usually requires a rebuild.
It’s not your job to know what can be done as a site refresh and what requires starting over, but you should get what you want clear in your mind and express it completely. It’s unpleasant for client and web pro alike to get partway into a job and discover that they only thought they agreed on the scope of work. Whether you need a new paint job or a complete change of architecture, you can be quite sure that no web design job is like moving furniture. “Hmm… let’s try the slider over here instead” is only a practical approach if you’re paying by the hour and money is no object.
It makes sense to find someone to manage your website before you have problems. That makes it easier to get support for your website when you need it — without ending up in an emergency situation.