Due to the level of trust that our customer’s have in our knowledge and ability to help them, we regularly get emails from frantic CEO’s or entrepreneurs who feel they are being cheated or taken for a ride by their website developers, to whom they have outsourced their web application or website related work to. This article lists some key areas where companies and businesses usually get conned by their software developers or website design agency. When you encounter these red flags, it may be time to review your relationship with them and be reassured that you are not being fooled.
Stealing your information
Many people have lost valuable customer information when they shared their eCommerce database with unscrupulous website coders who sold the database to a competitor. A customer of ours, who was into diamond jewellery suddenly noticed a slump in sales and got the information that his regular clients had all switched to buying from his direct competitor. On further investigation, he realized that his website developers had leaked his entire customer database to his competitor. To avoid this, it is best to avoid giving live information to the team unless it is very necessary. They can always work with a dummy database and test information until the live database is fit for migration. The entire database should not be accessible to anyone except the Primary Admin account.
Programmers are known to leave backdoors open in websites that they code or websites which are given to them to update. A backdoor is another way of getting into the system. This maybe through an unknown or hidden login or maybe through some remote software which can tap into the database. Many a times the programmers intentionally create these backdoors to steal information and to keep control of the website, long after their contract has expired or services terminated. Sometimes a temporary login which was created for testing is often forgotten and left to be exploited at some future date by the same team or unknown attackers who have discovered the backdoor. The best way to overcome such a situation would be to ensure a thorough sweep of your website and penetration testing by an expert security professional.
Many programmers blatantly plagiarize other website designs and give it to unsuspecting clients, portraying it to be their original work. Software for scraping websites is quite commonly used to copy a design or layout or copy elements from a website which the client likes. Not only does this constitute Copyright infringement, this may also lead to the website being incomplete or filled with vulnerabilities which may be taken care of on the original website. Blindly copying a website or template can land you into great trouble. Doing some Googling on available or similar themes for your website, you will be able to quickly catch a badly done copy job.
Fly-by-night programmers often portray to have a large team of many employees working day and night. Their website boasts of many staff with impressive profiles and portfolios. Such a setup is usually a one-man-show which is just interested in the money. Neither is the programmer experienced, nor does he have proper training or knowledge of the subject. It is a perfect situation to mess up your website maintenance job. Always see prior work of the developers and verify with other credible references. See how long and how well they served their previous clients, before you decide to start a relationship with them.
When signing a contract with a development team, ensure that it is water tight and contains every single aspect of what you need from them. Also ensure that the payment terms are clearly mentioned, preferably in the form of milestones or across a timeline of work. Clearly mention who owns the rights to the work and how a dispute would be handled. You may also want to include a Non-Disclosure Agreement or Non-Compete agreement which will legally bind the website developers into keeping your information confidential.
90% of disputes that we have seen, between developers and the client, is due to a badly drafted, incomplete or vague contract. Both the parties keep the terms and conditions vague so that it allows them wiggle room for arm-twisting the other side. The client is also comfortable when things are vague, so that he can delay the payments of the developer and the developer also conveniently misses out crucial points to avoid doing more work. Both don’t realize that the entire purpose of the contract is defeated, if there is allowance for wriggling out of it. It may help in hiring a lawyer to whet the agreement before it is signed.