One of the most important, and often overlooked, aspects of getting a website designed is the issue of copyright. Who owns the finished website, you or your web designer?
Over the years I’ve seen quite a lot of people burnt by copyright issues. They hire someone to design their website and assume that on completion they own it. This is not always the case. In fact I know of at least a dozen examples where people have come to me after loosing their website to their last web design company when they decided to change designers.
Of course not all web design firms have the same copyright policies but generally speaking you should expect that you own the end product – your website. Bear in mind that there may be some applications that you license rather than own.
The bottom line is talk to any potential web designer and make sure you know up front what you will own when the website is finished. You should also check any contracts you have with them to make sure it’s covered there too. A professional web designer should be open and up front on the issues of copyright and ownership and be happy to explain anything you don’t understand.