Breaking an Agreement with your Website Designer

If you own a small business, you probably know that you need help along the way. There are not enough hours in the day to complete every task, and certainly, not enough time to master the skills it takes to perform those tasks professionally. You likely hire website designers, graphic artists, bookkeepers, assistants, virtual assistants, copywriters, coaches, and consultants.

Have you ever encountered a consultant that was not performing up to your standards? They might miss their deadlines or their work just wasn’t the quality you were expecting.

It is our hope that you never need to use these tips, but we have had many clients who have come to us after a bad experience with another website designer. If you are facing the situation of needing a professional website designer who can deliver professional results, you are in the right place.

How do you break an agreement with your web designer?

When working with a web designer, your own reputation and your business’ reputation is at stake. If you live by a code of excellence, you should expect nothing less from your consultants, especially your website designer. He or she will be responsible for the face of your brand to the world.

How do you approach a bad designer?

The first step is communication.

Communicate. Talk about it. It’s the easiest and cheapest solution. If you have a problem, you should discuss it first. Communication is key and often works out the problems.

In the instance you cannot get along well, or the designer is unresponsive, retiring, and/or leaving, then it’s definitely time to switch.

If you’ve tried communication and you still cannot come to agreement or understanding, you might need to break the agreement.

If so, here are a few things you need to consider:

If you signed a contract with your website designer, read it to make sure you understand the terms of your agreement in regards to ending the contract.

If you find you have legal problems with your designer, you need to consult with an attorney to fully understand your rights and responsibilities in your situation.

Before you fire your web designer, there are a couple of things you need to do first.

Be Sure You Have All Login information

First things first, be sure you have administrator access to each of the properties the designer setup to run your website. At a minimum, this includes the following:

If there has been any installed any additional software (email marketing, e-commerce solutions, or affiliate database), you’ll need the logins to this as well.

The simplest thing to do is request admin access from the web designer. Any legitimate professional website designer will happily hand these over.

However, if there is an instance where they have disappeared or refused to comply, you need to contact each of the providers and ask what steps you can take to prove that you own these web properties.

You need to be sure you have a copy of all related files and documents (including paper and electronic) before your fire your website designer. If you skip this step, you may never see those files again without a legal battle over your website.

Change All Passwords

Make sure to use a new password that your web designer cannot figure out. And once the passwords have been changed, immediately remove the designer as an admin. Otherwise, they may be able to find out the password through a “Forgot My Password” prompt.

If domain registration and hosting are under your direct control, you simply need to change the passwords on any accounts (control panels and FTP) to make sure your developer does not have access. Then you are ready to start a new relationship with someone else.

How to Fire Your Web Designer

Yes, it is uncomfortable to speak with someone you’re just fired, but you should plan on a time to speak with your web designer or web developer. If at all possible, you should try to arrange an in-person meeting with them, and if that is not possible, a conversation over the telephone will suffice. Unless it is necessary, you should not terminate an agreement over email or instant messenger. The one instance that this is acceptable is if your website designer has completely disappeared and is not returning any form of communication. An official email ending the relationship should suffice in these instances.

Here are some discussion items to consider when firing your web designer:

  • Be clear about what went wrong and give examples.
  • Point out times you’ve asked for revisions or a change in behavior. Remind your designer you have asked them to address these items previously.
  • Describe how you expected the work relationship to work.
  • Be professional and unemotional if possible.
  • Remember, creative work is performed with emotion and passion. While there are some professional website designers out there, some individuals have a difficult time with rejection and do not handle it well. Be prepared for an emotional reaction.
  • Stand your ground and remember the reason for the conversation in the first place.