I have been in the graphic design business for over 10 years held various positions at companies from webmaster to content creator for companies ranging from publishing houses to non-for profits. During my time I have learned a lot about protecting your brand. I have heard horror stories of people losing their brands to unscrupulous designers and companies that prey on small business owners. As a freelance designer and small business owner I am always aware of protecting my brand so I wanted to share some stories and tips on how to make sure you protect what you worked hard for. Welcome to tales from the DARK WEB the dark side graphic design.
STORY NUMBER ONE:
I get a call one day from a potential new client inquiring about my rates for revamping her site. The conversation starts off typical. Me asking the usual questions when do you need it? What is needed? Etc. As she begins to answer the questions I ask about the platform she is currently on I realize that she doesn’t know. Not a problem I am the professional I am not expecting every client to know what platform they are using. Most just know this is how I access certain things and this is what I do when I log in. I ask about getting access to the site she emails me the username and password, when I log in I realize that the access she has is an editor not an administrator. This presents a bit of a problem. Not being able to access the site as an administrator limits your access to any code or the part of the CMS that is needed to redesign or alter the site if needed. I explain to her that I am unable to do the design work via that method she sent me but I can access it by way of her CPANEL I ask her for any hosting information that she may have. She doesn’t have that information. She explains that the designer that she used to make the site never gave her that information and that she had him buy all of the domain and hosting it was part of the package that she had purchased. This isn’t necessary a bad thing if the company that your where dealing with were honest. But in this case they basically took ownership of her site and refused to give her the access. After many calls and me trying to access the site I had to explain to her what was really going on.
LESSON TO LEARN:
If you do not want to handle the any of setting up of a domain or hosting and would rather someone else do it, which is common due time constraints or just plain ole rather focus on the part of the business you understand, then finding a company that will handle all of the other stuff is fine. Make sure though you find what you get for that package make sure to ask if you will be made an ADMINISTRATOR in the CMS. Ask if you will receive all of the credentials needed to fully access all levels of the site. If the designer is unwilling to give you full and complete access find one that will. Last but not least get it in writing.
STORY NUMBER TWO:
One of my longtime clients refers me to an associate of his for a re branding of his companies logo. I speak the client and realize he doesn’t want a re branding but a cleaning basically of his current logo. In most cases I stay away from these projects because I rather create something new than clean up some other designer’s work. In any case I decided to do it the client sends over the logo I ask do they have the source files. The client doesn’t understand what I am talking about. When I explain what a source file is they inform me that the designer only gave them jpg files. So after hearing this I realize that I will have to recreate the logo which is an whole different service and more money.
LESSON TO LEARN:
A source file is the file that the logo was created in whether it is a PHOTOSHOP , ILLUTSTRATOR or any program that the designer uses. You as a paying client should request those files when the logo is done. There are cases when the logo may need to altered for special occasions like holidays or events. Having the source files allows you do any changes yourself if desired or use another designer should something happen to the one that created it. As always ask these questions upfront before you begin to work with a designer and always get it in writing.
STORY NUMBER THREE:
New client reaches out for a revamp of their current site. They like the current site but feel like the business has grown out of its current websites platform and is looking to move the site to another platform. Not a problem I am giving access to the database and can download all the necessary information to start the rebuild. But there is just one problem, the new platform that the client wants to use requires that they move their DOMAIN to their platform, This presented a very special problem because the client did not own the domain. She informed me that the original designer of the site had taken care of everything even the purchasing of the domain and was unhappy with her not using his services for the revamp. So instead of relinquishing her domain to her he had decide to resell the domain back to her at an astronomical price. This happens more often than you think. Designers with no integrity do this type of stuff all of the time.
LESSON TO LEARN:
As always ask the right questions before you work with a designer. Find out whether again you will own the domain will they transfer domain ownership to you when site is done and again ….. GET IN WRITING.