Website Design Headache #43 – Predatory Tactics to Avoid

When you hire someone to design and build your website, you need to be aware of some hidden pit-falls in building a website. Over the last few years, new clients have come to me with predatory tactics their former webmasters had used to hold them hostage for thousands more dollars at the end of their website design project.

One dentist had used a certain webmaster to build his website and do upgrades over the years. Then his webmaster became unresponsive, and would not make changes and updates to the website as requested. That is when this dentist came to me to do their website upgrades.

Beware of Predatory Website Design Tactics

We began moving the website from the previous webmaster’s hosting to my hosting, so I could take control of the website and perform the requested upgrades and changes. But when we went to move the website hosting, we found out that the old webmaster had purchased the URL or domain name the website was built on. Now the dentist had to buy the domain name from his old webmaster now that the website was fully developed.

If the dentist had purchased his own domain name originally, he would have paid around $12 per year to Go Daddy or a similar registrar prior to the website being built. Now the old webmaster wanted $1000 to sell the dentist the domain name to the website that the dentist had paid to build.

Unfortunately, there was no way around this. The old webmaster had not done anything illegal, but I believe he had set up the dentist to take advantage of him later. While this is not illegal, I believe it is unethical to set your clients up for a $1000 surprise like this.

In this case, the dentist was forced to pay his old webmaster $1000 to buy the domain name to his own website he had paid to build! Lesson to learn… always own your own domain name so someone cannot hold you hostage later, and sell you back what you should already have owned.

The “You Do Not Own the Content” Website Design Pitfall

The other pit-fall to watch out for is someone owning the content and/or design of your website. I had a caterer come to me this last year, and she wanted to make her website appear on the first page of Google organic search results for lots of free traffic. The first problem was the site was built in a template that is difficult, if not impossible, for Google to index the content of the website. I recommended she upgrade to a Word Press website with a premium theme for SEO so that the content of her website could be easily indexed by Google.

As we did the upgrade, the caterer received an email from the old webmaster claiming that he owned the content and design of the website. He threatened to sue her for breach of contract if she did not immediately pay him $5000. I am not kidding!

Unfortunately, she had signed a contract that stipulated that the webmaster would own the content of the website, even though she had paid him to create it. I told her we could create an entire new website for less than that, which she used in her argument with the old webmaster. She was able to negotiate a settlement that was less than $5000, but it took 6 weeks to make this agreement, and the website needed to be taken offline for the 6 weeks while they haggled out the legalities. Having her catering website offline for 6 weeks hurt her Google ranking that we were trying to build.

Website Design “Deals” You Need to Avoid

Both of these people described in this post got a “really good deal” on their websites, only to find out that they were duped into paying thousands to buy the rights to either the domain name or the website content later.

My advice is this: Always buy your own domain names ( and .mobi version), and always keep the exclusive rights to the content and design of your website.

If you are forced to sign a detailed contract, be sure you read it so you can catch if they will be holding you hostage later by selling you back your domain name and/or your website content. Be sure to have your attorney read all contracts BEFORE signing them!

Website Design & Development with No Surprises!

If you are interested in building a website that can rank in the top of Google’s search results WITHOUT being held hostage by some $5000 surprise later, please feel free to contact me about your project. I will not make you sign a contract, and you are free to end my services anytime you feel I am not providing you adequate value. I offer a FREE 60-Point Advertising Audit & 15-Minute Local Marketing Strategy Session ($244.00 Value!) to discuss your project at no risk or obligation to you. If you just have a simple question, please feel free to email me about that too. You can email me by using the contact form in the right column of this page, or going to the Contact Me tab of this website. I look forward to speaking with you soon, and making your website design the masterpiece you want it to be!