Many designers take the approach that they build a site that will make them indispensable to maintain the site. They might charge a lower fee upfront, but then every time you want a change, no matter how small, they charge you an exorbitant fee that has little to do with the amount of work involved. These same developers often disappear as well, leaving the poor client in a mess.

I’ve lost track of the number of people who have called me in desperation to get their site working, let alone make changes. Unfortunately no designer will take over someone else’s work because we then become responsible for it. Quite often the site is built with some obscure program that would take weeks to learn which makes no sense unless it will be used over and over again for other clients.

Not everybody is thrilled with the work that was done. Design is very much in the eye of the website designer and they often build sites that only glorify their abilities, but don’t work for the client. I’ve seen too many gorgeous, feature rich sites that take forever to load, so very few people will see them. Study after study has shown that you have about eight seconds to make an impression and get the visitor to stay. When a site takes two minutes to load no one has the patience to wait for it. Often clients (not mine) are so unhappy that they simply don’t pay the designer. This is when they sadly discover that website design is the designer’s “intellectual property”, in other words they own it not the client. This is usually when the designer will take the site down until they are paid.

My approach has always been different. After I have done the build, they are happy and have paid me, I give them full access to the code. They can download it. They can hire another designer if they want in the future. They can sell the site if they choose, for example, if the business is sold. I also take great pains to make sure they understand how to update the site with the things like new photographs and copy. Blogs are a great example of how clients keep their sites current and this draws visitors to come back. If you site includes advertising this is an important factor in whether they see a benefit in having their ads on your site.