Locked In: Why proprietary software is bad news for your website

There are a few different reasons a web designer might use proprietary software they’ve built in their projects. Some believe that closing off the source code will ramp up the security, making it harder for hackers to infiltrate websites.

Maybe.  But designers would need to be real software security experts to defend their product. Unfortunately, most web design companies have less noble intentions.

Money makes the web go ’round.

Every business wants to make a profit. This is the motive behind most proprietary software:  since you can’t manipulate the software yourself, you’re forced to engage the designer’s services whenever you want to make changes to your site. You also can’t hire another developer to work on the site, unless you want to start from scratch.

Web designers who use proprietary software often charge monthly licensing or maintenance fees. At the same time, they never improve the product, so you end up paying over and over for a static website. In effect, you’re handcuffed to the software.

A few highly unscrupulous designers will not only overcharge you for software that you’re locked out of but will either passively or actively sabotage your efforts if you decide to part ways with the company. With proprietary software, a developer can hold your site hostage by denying access to the system for migration purposes.

Take off the handcuffs.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re not chained to your web designer, and also to prevent possible disaster for your online business:

  • Retain control of your domain. You, rather than the developer, should be listed as the registrant of the domain, so you’ll have no trouble taking your website address with you if things don’t work out.
  • Go over the work contract with a fine-toothed comb. Make sure you have access to the back end code once the design process is complete. If the contract is not clear, have the contract reworded to spell it out.
  • Avoid web designers who work with software developed by their firm. Developers who use third-party open source or popular content management or e-commerce software aren’t motivated to insist on using a single, proprietary platform. Instead, they can suggest the software that offers the best solution for the needs of your business.

How are we different?

At US Digital Partners, we don’t believe in handcuffing clients with proprietary software or ongoing software fees. We find the best available third-party tools and build websites using systems that adapt easily to new innovations. If you need something custom-built, then you own the code so your business can be free to soar to new heights.

With content management and e-commerce technology changing every day, a static website is an ineffective website. Any business needs to be able to update its website seamlessly, taking advantage of the latest improvements in technology and interactive marketing. Proprietary software just isn’t conducive to a growing business.

By DAVID, Posted March 20, 2012

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