You’ve already got a site—that’s not the problem. The problem is for whatever reason, you no longer have a working relationship with your existing web designer but you still need someone to maintain the site and handle all future updates and maintenance. Surely, finding a new web designer is going to be easy? Maybe…maybe not.
Perhaps you’ve already asked many web designers and companies if they want to take control of your site and they’ve all said no—and you’re left asking the question: why won’t a web designer work on my website? Here I outline some possible reasons and how you can overcome them.
Being a web designer can be a time–consuming profession. When business is going well it is a job that goes way beyond forty hours per week. As such, a web designer will simply not have time. This is perhaps the simplest reason to explain but also the hardest to overcome. Why? There isn’t really a way around it—other than being patient. Call them every week or so and see if their workload has changed; from experience, most decent web people have high lead times.
Freelancers aren’t generally equipped to handle jobs that are too big; conversely, agencies don’t tend to take on small jobs. Before approaching a web designer or agency try to ascertain the size of your site. How many people worked on the original build and for how long? By finding out whether your site needs an individual or a small or large team will help you to find the right person/people.
Not all websites use the same technologies to drive them. Generally speaking, websites tend to run on either a Windows or Linux platform. Most web designers—and even agencies—only use one platform or the other. Expecting them to work with a site that’s built on a platform they’re not familiar with is like expecting an English person who can speak French to start speaking German, simply because they can already speak a second language. Even if the platform is correct, it does not guarantee that they’ll be able to work with the other technologies (scripting language, database server) on there. Find out what platform your site is hosted on (ask your hosting company) and mention this to your prospective new web designer from the outset.
If a site is built using the technologies of my choice the biggest reason I turn a job down is because of the second–rate build quality of the original site. Unfortunately, if you’ve cut corners or had the misfortune to have patronised a ‘cowboy’ then most decent web designers will not be willing to take your site on—unless you agree to pay to have it rebuilt. Working with a poorly–built website is like decorating a house with no foundations: despite your best efforts, you’ll always be destined for failure. If you are told by a reputable web designer than your site needs rebuilding for them to take it on, cut your losses and accept it.
Some sites—particularly big ones—are just too risky. I’m always loathe to take on a big site such as an eCommerce site or content management system that has been built by someone else. Even if the build quality is good, it’s not going to be something I’m familiar with. By taking on the site I take on its responsibility. If something goes wrong with it do I really want to be the one who has to wade through thousands of lines of unfamiliar code to fix it for a pittance? If your site is ‘high risk’ expect to pay a premium on maintenance if you expect someone else to take it over.