As you probably know by now, we offer websites on a unique monthly “Managed Website” model.
In another post, we covered why we price based on this model. But given this model is revolutionary in terms of a service-based deliverable like website design, we get many questions about just how this actually works!
So if you’re wondering what the nitty gritty details of a web design project would like with us, this is exactly the post you need to read.
The Terms: How We Protect Your Interests as a Client and Ours as a Provider
If you decide you’d like to work with us and we think the project is a good fit, one of the very first things we’ll do is send over a contract that makes sure everyone is on the same page.
While I’ll not rehash the entire contract here, there’s one particular section that spells out exactly what you get with the website.
Assuming you choose a marketing hub website, here’s the exact wording you’ll see:
- Custom Website w/ up to 15 Pages. You will receive a website custom-designed from the ground up. This agreement makes provision for up to 15 pages, and does not include large e-commerce stores. If need be, pages may be added to this agreement on an a-la-carte basis for $9.95/month/page.
- Full Custom Logo Design. In the event that your business does not already have a logo, we will arrange to have one created as a part of this agreement.
- On-Page SEO. Your website will be created with the intent of making it attractive and understandable both to customers and search engines. Any copy created will be geared towards specific industry keywords, and the site will include the necessary metadata to properly present your website to search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
- Business Class Web Hosting. If you are not already signed up with a web host and would prefer to use ours, we invite you to do so at no extra charge. If you would like to migrate after your current hosting contract expires, we will be happy to do that free of charge.
- 2 Business Email Addresses. If you are taking advantage of our hosting, we will provide up to 2 business email addresses to match your domain name. Additional addresses available on request, priced on a case-by-case basis. It is recommended, however, that you use a separate provider to handle email.
- Blogging Capabilities. Each Managed Website includes the capability to blog. WordPress has a very robust blogging platform built in, and is able to accommodate needs such as advanced scheduling, social media integration, social commenting, and even podcast hosting.
- Monthly Detailed Analytics. Each site includes a detailed monthly analytics report. This report is highly customizable and can be emailed to you each month. When the site is finished, we will customize this report to your liking.
- Regular security and performance updates. We perform daily manual and automatic security and performance updates in order to keep your site functional and protected. Plug-ins will be updated only after verification that the functionality of the site will not be negatively affected.
- Security Suite and Firewall Installation w/ Intrusion Monitoring. In order to protect against emerging threats such as viruses, malware, and brute-force intrusion, we will install a comprehensive security plugin which proactively scans, monitors, and protects your website. We will be emailed immediately should the system detect any issue with your site that needs attention.
- Daily Backups. We perform a daily backup of your website in order to ensure that we can restore your site to a similar state should a security event render your site unusable. We will perform a manual backup after major site changes in order to ensure that your site provides a consistent experience for your visitors.
- 1 hr. per month of requested updates/changes. Managed Website customers may take advantage of up to 1 hour per month of free website maintenance for the duration of their contract. This time does not roll over from month to month. Projects expected to exceed one hour on any given month will be agreed upon before beginning work and billable at 20% off the current hourly rate.
- Triennial touch-up/re-design. Over time, design trends and business objectives change. For those reasons and more, provisions have been made in this agreement to, once every 36 months, include any extensive re-finishing/re-design work at no additional charge. This would be a great time to update the site to reflect new business ideas, goals, and products, and even to update various visual aspects of the site.
- 2 hr. Training per Year. If needed, up to two (2) hours of training will be provided each year to users wishing to learn how to safely update blog and other frequently changing content without intervention.
These terms fit the bill of most projects we do. Some, because they are more complex in functionality, will require amendments to these, but that is not usual.
Oftentimes, we will spell out any additional details (relating to learning management, membership areas, e-commerce, etc) in a separate part of the contract, depending on the arrangement we’ve decided on in prior conversations.
One of the big questions we get is payment terms! I want to be very clear and detailed in answering that. First, may I give you a bit of background?
I have been personally involved in the creation of WordPress websites since around 2007/8. That’s a long time.
By far, the biggest issues that arise stem from a lack of care and attention to the site.
In the early days, we’d build a site, charge someone a flat fee, give them login credentials and a minimal amount of training (assuming the client made time for that), and that would be the end of it.
In more recent years, agencies started offering maintenance plans to help offset this problem.
That’s all well and good, but in my opinion, it still doesn’t go far enough.
As a result of our time working with clients, watching websites be neglected (sometimes even hacked by malware), I had a radical thought:
What if someone could just pay me forever, and they’d always have a modern, up-to-date, well performing, great-looking website?
When you needed something, your “web guy” would always be there waiting, and you’d never have to save up thousands of dollars for a huge project.
It helps me because I always have a stable income for my family, and it helps you because your website won’t fall by the wayside and your web guy won’t fall off the face of the earth.
When I started building our team, I kept the same thinking. So now, it’s not only your “web guy” that’s always there… but your entire web TEAM!
So all of that said, in 100% full disclosure: My intent is that when you begin working with us, you never stop. I literally want you to pay us forever! And in turn, I want us to do great work for you forever and make sure you always have a great website you’re proud of.
At its heart, that’s subscription web design.
Of course, though, I realize that is not always realistic. Sometimes things don’t work out, or circumstances change and you can’t necessarily keep paying forever, etc.
So for that reason, we think of your website in two ways:
- A lease
- Payment cycles
We have an 18-month minimum commitment. When you sign a contract with us, there is a 30-day grace period to back out.
Once that grace period has passed, you are committed to paying the monthly amount stated in the contract for the remainder of that 18-month cycle. If you want out early, that’s fine, but you’ll have to pay the remaining 18 months before ownership of the website ultimately transfers to you.
So, 18 months is one cycle. At that time, similar to a “lease to own” agreement, the website is yours, and you are free to leave.
Ideally, though, you are thrilled with the high level of service we have provided and the product created, and you want to stay.
And of course, we want you to! So if you continue in your payments, after two cycles (36 months), your site is eligible for an extensive redesign, at which time the payment clock resets and it’s like starting from zero.
What’s cool is, if your initial project required setup fees, your redesign will not, provided there are no fundamental changes to the structure of the website.
(Example: If we started with a basic brochure/marketing website, but at your 36-month redesign you wanted to upgrade the site into a membership site, setup fees and a rate-change may apply. It is a different kind of site altogether.)
Otherwise, barring extensive economic circumstances, your rate would stay the same and there would be no fees. (We would give 3 months notice if a rate change were necessary, giving you plenty of time to find another provider in the future should you decide to.)
In plain English, then:
- If you pay us for 18 months, the website is yours and you’re free to do with it what you wish. We’ll even help you transfer it to another provider.
- If you pay us for 36 months, we’ll redesign the website according to your wishes and the payment clock resets again. During that entire period, the website stays managed, up-to-date, and performant.
- If you pay us forever, you’ll always have an amazing website, an amazing team there to support you when you need it, and you’ll be putting your best foot forward.
Expectations: How We Create a Fantastic Project Together
Early on, I learned how important it is to manage expectations well.
To wear my heart on my sleeve a bit, I hate it when people are upset with me. It’s the worst feeling in the world.
Sure it makes me feel bad, but also, I just always want to do a great job for my clients! And when something happens that raises a question as to whether or not we delivered, it’s upsetting.
So for that reason, we do our best to manage expectations going into every project.
Let me give you a few thoughts on the “big rocks,” and then I will direct you to a few other resources that explain bits of our process in more in-depth.
We place a huge emphasis on communication. You will find it all throughout our website.
However, we emphasize thorough communication—not instant communication.
This is a huge distinction, and it’s important. For the purposes of our project together, we are going to ask that you adopt our commitment to and philosophy of communication.
Here’s why: In a world where instant communication and gratification is required, people struggle to do their best work.
We recognize this and want to actively guard against it. Our team commits to regular, consistent, and thorough communication.
That communication may only come once per week during an active build, and you should know that is within expectations for our team. By focusing on the needs of the project during the week, instead of micro-updates, our team can manage the workload well and do the best work possible.
So we do ask that you respect and abide by that philosophy of communication when you work with our team.
For a marketing hub website, current timelines (as of 1/24/23) are 6-8 weeks for a marketing hub website and 8-12 weeks for a learning hub website (including membership sites).
We commit to, barring any unforeseen circumstances, a finished result in that time window.
Something you should expect is that, after we begin a project, you may not see any activity at all for the first 30 days or so.
This is for a few reasons:
- Our 6-8 week time frame accounts for other projects that are being finished up. But if we don’t get your project into our system when we do, our timelines would push out even further.
- This is the part of the process where information is being processed. We are taking the questionnaire we have you fill out, combined with the internal project overview we create based on discussions during the sales process, and creating the initial look and feel of the site based on that. So most of this work for the first 30 days or so is “behind the scenes.”
- Around Friday of week 4 of our project, you should be looking out for a homepage/header/footer design update from our team. At that point, our team has internally created and critiqued the initial design. Once we show that to you and get feedback, the process becomes more “active,” you’ll receive more regular updates, and the communication pattern will start to emerge.
Finally, this is a matter of personal importance to me as the business owner.
I love my team. My clients love our team. They make this business and the results we get for clients possible.
And… they are not perfect. They make mistakes. I make mistakes. You make mistakes. We all do.
I will always go to the mat for my team. We are quick to point out errors in judgment, implementation, or communication, and always strive to do the best work we can for clients. I’ve never met a more loyal, committed, crew. And they’re AMAZING at what they do.
At the end of the day, there’s only one real requirement that we have of you: Respect.
It is inappropriate to talk down to anyone on my team. It is inappropriate to spy on their activity and ask why they are not working on your project at any given time. It is inappropriate to ask for constant updates that do not fall within the scope of the expectations we’ve laid out in this post, our contract, and our conversations. It is inappropriate to insult their intelligence for a decision that was made, for any reason.
We wake up excited to work for you every single day. Things do go wrong sometimes, although it is rare. But it is important to always be respectful, and we will continue to provide you with a high level of service.
If at any time you feel like we have violated our own commitments or expectations, please email me directly and we will come to a decision that makes sense together.
My team is not authorized to make amendments to our policies or philosophy of communication, timing, or etiquette, so at this time, those matters must be discussed directly with me.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and consider a project with us!
We’ve had the privilege of working with some of the most amazing people on the planet since we started this business in 2015, and it’s been my distinct honor to help our clients change the world.
If you’re looking for a bit more information about our processes or pricing, visit this link. It is full of resources to help you understand what it would be like to work with our team on a web project.
I hope this and every resource we create is useful in making the best decision for your organization.