You have Questions? I have Answers!

Recently, I had a prospective client ask several questions through the proposal and contract phases of my companies process to get to the point of starting a contract. These are valid questions, and rather than convoluting the contract, I’ll put them here in layman’s terms.

So, here are a few of those questions, and their answers. I’m putting these into my own words.

I do not own a domain currently. If you’re billing me for one and registering it, will I own it?

Yes! As a webhost, I am able to register a domain in your name. This means that you own it! I have no need to own your domain name. If you have never owned a domain before, the process is slightly complicated, but I take care of that process for you. You will receive a registration email detailing your new account and owned domain(s).

Will I own the website you are building?

Yes! What good would your website be if it wasn’t yours? Now, you may have some confusion regarding some terms for your website in the contract. Such as “non-exclusive“. This term means that rather than your website being the only website out there with your specific design, I am permitted to use elements from your design in other websites. This reduces the cost of your website design dramatically. Even if you look at website templates online, there is typically a purchase price, and an exclusive price. Typically, your price is anywhere from $50 and up, but the “exclusive” price is in the thousands. This is because you are requesting that no one else use that site design, which means the developer cannot use it as well. Reducing their earnings for their work.

I just read through the the terms at the end of the contract, it looks like there are additional fees I have to pay!  Mileage?  Markup? Why?

These are in place for very specific reasons. Here is the full section referred to:

Now, lets break these down. These are pretty standard items in any design contract.

(a) Incidental and out-of-pocket expenses at cost plus Designers standard markup of 20%

What this means is that if I am required to pay for any part of your web design build or something that accompanies the website. You would be required to reimburse me with an additional 20% on top. So, if I must pay out of my own pocket for something that you are supposed to have paid for, there are fees applied. You can go to your bank and pull out money, but if you decide not to use your own bank, you pay fees. Have a cell phone, and travel outside your local area? You pay long distance instead of local. Cross a border? You pay roaming charges. Designer has to pay for something because you didn’t send the money as requested? You need to compensate.

(b) Mileage reimbursement, other than normal commuting, at $2.00 per kilometer

Let’s say that you own a physical property, and you decide you want me to come to the site for some reason. Who pays for that? Let’s say that your physical location is an hours drive away from my location, and the work you want can be done remotely. Who pays for the two hours a day of commuting? We’re talking about the time that I cannot work as I am driving, and the gas, as well as the insurance and maintenance of a vehicle that is driving to your work site. If you want me to travel to you, then you need to pay those expenses.

(c)Travel expenses, other than normal commuting, but including airfare and rental vehicles, with client approval.

Let’s say that you are at a large enough distance from me, and require me to be on-site. Should the designer pay the hundreds (to thousands) of dollars it will take to get to you at your request on plane tickets, and car rentals? If you request that I travel the distance to you, you need to approve paying the expenses.

Here’s another area regarding potential additional costs:

What does this section mean? 

It means that if you and I work out a plan, we build the scope out, and after the contract is signed for an agreed amount of work, you decide to double the work, you pay additional costs. Should a four page website cost the same as an eight page website with music and videos playing? Just because you signed an agreement for a price, doesn’t mean you are able to get anything you want for that price. If you change the scope of the project, you need to pay for those changes. No web designer is a charity. They are in business to make money, just like you.

Your hosting and maintenance annual costs seem higher than others. Why?

Excellent question, and one that I am more than happy to provide.

I’m going to touch more on the maintenance portion. This is where your costs really come into play.

Backups: As your webhost, Nomadic Design preforms nightly backups of your webspace, and maintain 14 days of backups. This ensures that if for some reason, we need to revert your website to an earlier form, you may only lose a maximum of 24 hours of data. Most webhosts do not offer this.

Sandbox: A sandbox is a “safe space” where a duplicate version your website exists, and upgrades can be fully tested before being implemented on your live website. If the upgrade crashes your website, it’s only a test version of your website, and not the live one. This means you do not have downtime. As a case in point, a popular and trusted e-commerce application recently preformed an update which crashed multiple websites, and these websites had no choice but to rebuild their websites. If they’re lucky, they have a recent backup, and they will only lose a day of data, and a day of sales.

Nomadic Design tests the updates to ensure functionality, and then backs up your website just before update to ensure that there is no data loss in the event that there is a failure. These updates will only occur in the late evening (11pm PST for North America), and you will be provided a report of what changes are about to occur five days in advance of updates so that you may review.

Database Cleaning: With any website that runs with a database, it will need periodic cleaning and optimization in order to allow your website to run faster. The more changes you make on your website, the more often it needs to be optimized. Nomadic Design optimizes your database on a monthly basis to ensure your visitors never have to wait for a page to load because it’s running too long.

Active Monitoring: Your website is your lifeblood, and we don’t take that lightly. At Nomadic Design, we have implemented an active monitoring system with both email and text notifications to alert us to any problems your website may be having on our servers. Allowing us to respond within 30 minutes of any failure.

As you can imagine, there are several hours of effort per month and a lot of storage space required to provide these services to you. These services are billed annually, rather than monthly, and are not an extra charge to you as they are built into your plan.

Conclusion

Are you going to pay these expenses? That depends, are you requesting me to travel? No? Are you paying on time? Yes? Are you staying within the scope of the project? Yes? Then you won’t! These are a standard part of a contract to prevent abuse. Contracts cannot (and should not) be designed on a customer by customer basis.  There is also no way to tell if a customer is going to try and get a designer to double his work for the same price. This happens a lot, and you may not be “that customer”, but the items will still exist in your contract.