You must must must must must get all html, css & graphic files, etc. from your designer even if s/he uploads them to a server for you. This is especially important if you haven't bought your own hosting service and therefore don't have ftp access information, etc.
If you don't do this AND your designer disappears on you and/or you don't want to use her to make every little change (or god forbid, your designer is an a-hole who's decided to hijack your site and hold it for ransom), you are totally screwed unless you're tech savvy. 99.9% of people are probably doomed to go through the horrible time-consuming exercise of getting all their files back by using the "view source code" command on their browser. And they better hope that their designer didn't code in PHP because PHP sourcecode is hidden if you access the file via a browser.
Remember: html, css, graphics files (jpg, gif, etc.) should be a part of the deliverables. You paid for them, so you're entitled to them. Specify this clearly when you hire someone.
BTW -- the list of designers I can now recommend has dwindled even more. In case you're wondering, I wholly recommend Frauke from CrocoDesigns and Tara O'Shea from Fringe Element. I've worked with them both, and they're excellent professionals. (Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with them in any way.)
I've seen so many writers who got into difficult situations with their webmasters. It could be anything from the webmaster going MIA, doing shoddy work, whatever. In the eventuality that you want to break up with your designer / webmaster, you should always ensure that your website design (including CSS, graphics, header, buttons, everything) is yours to take with you, and that you don't have to continue hiring the designer / webmaster you no longer find "professional" in order to be able to use the template, etc. you've paid for.
BTW -- don't let your designers register your domain for you. Domain registration is easy. A few clicks of the mouse and you're done. If your designers / webmasters did it for you, make sure to get it transferred to you as soon as possible. Transferring a domain name when your tech people go missing can be very time-consuming and stressful. Go to a place like 1and1.com and register it yourself. It's not that expensive, and 1and1 gives you free private registration.
P.S. In case you're interested, the ever-amazing Frauke from CrocoDesigns is doing a free author website workshop right here.
Last night, my site got hacked, and my hosting service suspended my account. It turned out that some @#$% got in and installed a phishing script on my server. Thankfully, my host didn't delete my account, and they gave me some tips on how to deal with the security issues. Unfortunately I had to delete my newsletter script from my nadialee.net site, but that's really minor since it could've been WordPress, which powers my entire website & blog. (FYI -- I upgrade WordPress religiously.)
So in order to prevent the @#$% that had happened to me from happening to you, I suggest that you upgrade your scripts & applications you have on your server. I'm talking about things like WordPress (the core), plug-ins, Joomla, forums, etc.
And all you hackers & phishing scammers out there -- there's a special place in hell just for you.
mood: optimistic about the future
currently working on: All the King's Women outline; I have it almost figured out...!
currently reading: Iron Kissed by Patricia Briggs
2008 was long and difficult yet surprisingly interesting and rewarding as well.
On the writing front, the year started off with selling a book to Samhain so that's always fantastic. But the biggest accomplishment is of course signing with an agent. I also left a critique group, but I think in a way it was inevitable. I do miss many of the writers I met there. Oh, and I have a new pretty website.
On to the financial matters -- my mom lost a ton of money thank to subprime. I wish she'd listened to me when I asked her to sit tight for another year before investing in the funds she was interested in. When you hear about banks raking in record profit from issuing more and more subprime loans, which are by nature very risky, you know there's something fishy going on, and that it's going to fall when weaker real estate markets start to lose their value one by one. I started the year with a ton of debt, but my venture investment paid off right before Christmas, so I'm starting the year with no debt (except the mortgage I have on my house) and some extra cash.
Talk about strange since I never expected to get any payment from the investment, given what's going on in the market.
My writing goals for 2009 are:
- Complete two manuscripts. I think I figured out what's wrong with All the King's Women and Nine. W00t!
- Read 52 books. Fiction, non-fiction, it doesn't matter. I just need to read to get more ideas and to recharge. I noticed that I didn't read all that much during the latter half of 2008, and it really affected my creativity.
- Take time off! I'm absolutely terrible at taking time off and relaxing. I always feel like I have to work or else. Of course this is unsustainable, and I do burn out and can't write for a month or two. Very unproductive. So I'm forcing myself to take two days a week off, along with major holidays, etc. Oh, I'm also making myself go to the gym three times a week at least.
- Read 2 how-to books (this does not count toward my goal #2) or take two online classes. I already signed up for a January class on how to not sabotage myself. I'm also eying another class on line edits because I think I can benefit from it.
- Write 2 blog posts a month. I'm terrible at blogging because I just forget at times. So I resolve to do better this year.
- Stop looking for and/or seek crit partners / groups. It's really not that I think I'm too good for feedback, but it takes a lot of time and energy to find a good crit group, and I've decided (after a long and careful consideration) that ROI would be better if I stick with the beta readers I have right now and spend the time I would've used to find good crit groups / partners on reading and taking classes. (BTW -- this doesn't mean I don't want any CPs or anything if one happens to come my way, but I just won't be actively looking for them either.)
- Evaluate and identify all not-helpful-anymore loops, groups, etc. Resign from them by Jan 31. This is a must since I decided that I don't have time for them. I stayed with most of them because you "have to network" but I had to wonder networking isn't about being in a group that sucks up all your time but gives very little in return. I should know better (or else my management consulting professor would send me a stern note saying she taught me better than this).
How about everyone else? How was your 2008 and what are your goals for 2009?
If you haven't done so, please read the previous installments titled Identifying Your Site's Purpose and Audience, Go-Live Date, Your Budget, and Your Technical Aptitude, Identifying Your Website Needs and Design Preferences a.k.a. Doing Your Homework, Contacting Designers and Getting Quotes and Evaluating Quotes and Designers before reading this week's article.
I was going to do lessons learned, but I realized that I really don't have anything to share, esp. since my experience with Frauke has been so smooth and pleasant. I really lucked out.
A few things to keep in mind:
- The designer works for you, not the other way around. She should provide you with a satisfactory design that meets your specifications.
- The designer is not a mind reader. If you're not satisfied with something, you must communicate as soon as possible.
- Don't stay with a designer who is rude, late, uncommunicative and/or incompetent. Believe it or not, there are a lot of incompetent designers. You can usually tell by their design portfolios and/or their response to your requests, etc.
P.S. If you want to plug any designers you've worked with before, feel free.