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Website Handover


#1
Could the group please advise. I commissioned a web designer to design me a site and he has completed his work which I am satisfied with. He advises me however that it is unusual to hand over the keys to the site and that he will keep control of the site. I would have to pay him for any updates changes etc. The site is designed in an online CMS system (Moonfruit). It was in my contract that on completion that copyright and ownership would be mine. He says that that he is prepared to make me a copy of the website but that he will keep control (just in case I mess anything up). Also that he has IP in the site. Im not sure about this as I employ an independent SEO company and the text and graphics were supplied by me.
I’m not too happy about this open ended arrangement as it potentially ties me to one designer for perpetuity I have suggested that he gives me my own active account on Moon fruit and I would give him control on an annual basis. ( We did agree an annual maintenance fee –renewable annually).

What is the norm. Is it “Unusual to hand over a site” If I mess it up I understand that it would be my responsibility to pay to put it right. I have undertaken not to make any unauthorised changes for a year.

Many Thanks

Hexasphere
 
#2
Websites are often either or really and it is up to the preferences of the client.

Sometimes you might wish for the developer to update it at their end to save yourself the hassle if you're perhaps not comfortable at updating or think it would be more convenient to pay them to do that, whereas at other times you might prefer to update it yourself.

It has been built with a CMS which would make it a much easier task for you to update it yourself with no knowledge of coding and so on needed to do so.

If you would like him to hand it over to you and you now own the copyright and ownership then I don't see how he can say no to you really. He has done his job, you've paid him and now he supplies you the goods.
 

Stationery Direct

Administrator
Staff member
#3
Really this should have been agreed at the beginning with your developer. Some developers use a standard code that they have created which they then tweak for each customer's needs, in most instances they still hold the copyright to this (unless you pay a release fee which is usually a lot more than the original design quote) and in extreme cases only allow the code/site to be hosted on a server under their control.

I presume moonfruit is open source in which case this should be released to you however you want it really, personally I would want full control and to host the site wherever I want ensuring I have a backed up version should I make any mistakes. I certainly wouldn't want to be tied to not making any alterations for 12 months...what's that all about!! Again, any changes I could not do myself I would also want to be free to use whoever I wish to do this.
 

Corrosive

Moderator
Staff member
#4
Moonfruit is just a free online 'drag and drop' flash website builder and you really shouldn't be able to mess it up by adding some extra content now and again. In fact we actively encourage our customers to run their own websites. It is better for their business and search engine rankings to have fresh content and it is better for us not to have to complete update work every five minutes.

As you have said, if customers break their site, they pay to have it fixed but we've yet to come across anyone who has!

Having said all that, I agree with the opinions here. It all depends on what you agreed to start with. As you said that
It was in my contract that on completion that copyright and ownership would be mine.
then it does seem that your designer is back-peddling from there.

I do think that your designer would have trouble claiming IP on the design as Moonfruit is template based as far as I know. So they'd have more claim to the design than your designer would but I must admit I haven't looked that far into it and you may be able to use bespoke code.

Also you said;
We did agree an annual maintenance fee –renewable annually
I'd ask him/her what maintenance they are doing. Moonfruit is a hosted/stable solution with a third party! This is from the Moonfruit website;

Moonfruit is used by hundreds of web agencies and designers to create websites for clients quickly and easily. And when the site is ready they can hand it over to the client with a built in content management system. No more hassle!

Many agencies use Moonfruit when the client's budget does not justify a hand coded site because so much of the hard work associated with building a site comes for free. Because the Moonfruit system deals with all the technical infrastructure and cross browser issues it allows the reseller to focus on the design and user experience of the site without having to worry about any of this.

As a resellers you can keep all your sites on the same master username/password so that it's easy to administer your client sites, though you can also create 'Admin' users for each client so that they have full edit rights on their own site too. Admin users can do everything you can do, except see the account panel, billing information or site addresses panel. So if you buy a custom domain name for their site there's no need to tell them it's Moonfruit.

Resellers can use any Moonfruit pack that allows multiple sites to be built. If you need more sites on your pack please contact us for some custom pricing
Hope that helps.
 
#5
It was in my contract that on completion that copyright and ownership would be mine.
Regardless of anything else, if you have a contract stating what you say, I don't see that he has a leg to stand on. As long as you have a copy of the contract to hand then its black and white.

I agree with the above comments too. If you did take it back from your designer, it is YOUR website and it's YOURS to mess up, so to speak.
 
#6
Doesn't sound like a very nice person to work with and seems a very forced / controled relationship! If I design / build a website for a client then they can do what they want with it in future as I would keep a backup of the site. I would offer them reasonable cost updates and they are normally happy to pay me. I guess good customer service keeps people coming back. If you treat people any other way and then try and force them to stay with you its not really the way to do business!

Unless it is a bespoke CMS system I would understand him not wanting to release the code without some kind of agreement since it would be his property. As you say though this isnt the case.
 
#7
You should have the rights to your own website. Being tied to a designer like that is a bad situation, because if he disappears your site will be stuck in its current state.

Sounds like he is either

1) Hoping to wring more money out of you
2) Worried about spending all his time supporting you when you make changes.

I'd try to find out which of these it is, if it's 1 then put your foot down and demand to move to another provider. If it's 2, then come to some agreement with him about support costs.
 
#8
Thanks everyone. I just needed the reassurance. He is actually a nice guy and he's done a really good job for me. I wish to continue my relationship with him but as all of you have confirmed I shouldnt be forced to do it. Thanks once again

Hex
 
#9
Could the group please advise. I commissioned a web designer to design me a site and he has completed his work which I am satisfied with. He advises me however that it is unusual to hand over the keys to the site and that he will keep control of the site. I would have to pay him for any updates changes etc. The site is designed in an online CMS system (Moonfruit). It was in my contract that on completion that copyright and ownership would be mine. He says that that he is prepared to make me a copy of the website but that he will keep control (just in case I mess anything up). Also that he has IP in the site. Im not sure about this as I employ an independent SEO company and the text and graphics were supplied by me.
I’m not too happy about this open ended arrangement as it potentially ties me to one designer for perpetuity I have suggested that he gives me my own active account on Moon fruit and I would give him control on an annual basis. ( We did agree an annual maintenance fee –renewable annually).

What is the norm. Is it “Unusual to hand over a site” If I mess it up I understand that it would be my responsibility to pay to put it right. I have undertaken not to make any unauthorised changes for a year.

Many Thanks

Hexasphere
in a software developer situation the person commissioning has the copyright - not sure about artwork, but if he has written you a site - its yours... unless - HE specifed otherwise up front(and you agreed).