Avoid the Web Design Lock in

By Dan Ballard, in , posted: 14-Jul-2014 16:58

If I was to ask you who owns your website, your initial reaction to that question may be “Well I do, I paid a design company thousands of dollars for it”. This is the answer that most people may give but there are a lot of web design companies that are using proprietary systems to make websites which means that you are locked into their system whether you like it or not.
Tell me, what would you think if you had a friend that was going to rent some land off a certain landlord and then that friend was going to pay that same landlord a large amount of money to build them a house on that land which could not be moved. Then your friend would continue to pay a rental to that landlord.

The Webdesign Lock in

If you were a good friend you should say “wait a minute” you are paying a landlord to build a house on land that the landlord owns and that house can’t be moved – you would be at the mercy of that landlord, that landlord could lock out anyone from making changes that you want on the house as it is their land and after you have the house built the landlord can charge you whatever he wants and you won’t be able to move.
Every single day this situation happens with people purchasing webdesign services from web designers that make websites on their proprietary systems, which mean the website can not be moved. So you can’t get any other person to work on your website – because the web designer does not allow it and you can not move the website to another hosting provider if you see fit. These people get locked into these proprietary systems and are forced to stay.
The problem is these webdesign companies have slick presentations and slick sales people which sell websites and webdesign systems to people that run businesses and organisations that don’t know any better. Don’t get me wrong these web design companies most of the times make ok websites that do what they say that they are going to do, it is just the lock in which is deceptive and typically the business owner is not aware of any problem until one day they decide make a change to the website and get a whopping big bill for a simple edit or decide that they would like to host elsewhere and are told that they can’t move.

How to avoid the webdesign Lock in

The best way to avoid the webdesign Lock in is to make sure you get your website made on an open source CMS such as WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. Because they are open source that means the base code is free and you can find plenty of designers that can do updates for you and you can easily move your website if you see fit.
When you get a website made that is based on an open source CMS you can host with any webhosting provider that you want and you can get anyone to work on the website when you want and you have the ability to update the website yourself.
If you are one of the unlucky ones that have been trapped in a web design lock in, never fear – any half decent open source web designer can make you a new website based on WordPress (or another open source system) that looks the same or similar to what you currently have.
Dan Ballard


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Comment by kiwitrc, on 15-Jul-2014 06:10

Good write up, thanks.

Comment by CapBBeard, on 15-Jul-2014 12:21

While I agree with your sentiment, you do also have to be careful with all three of those suggested open source products, with 'plugin lock in'.

A lot of the time additional functionality is called for that may not be available out of the box, so a third party plugin will be used to provide this functionality. Be sure to select plugins with a solid userbase and significant developer support. You dont want to be caught a year or two later with a massive dependency on a particular plugin that is no longer supported by the developer or community at large. This can have a knock on effect, where you are unable to upgrade the core product as the aging plugin will not work on the later versions.

Be careful out there!

Author's note by cyberhub, on 15-Jul-2014 12:36

Absolutely CapBBeard,

I certainly agree, there are times when you use a paid plugin to achieve some sort of functionality that you want.  You want to make sure that it is a well supported plugin, especially if that plugin will be a critical part of your business.


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Dan Ballard
New Zealand

CyberHub is a hosting company based in Auckland, we specialise in Hosting WordPress websites and VPS, Dedicated Servers and Domain Name Hosting.
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