Pet Peeve


Q:  What’s one thing that happens in your industry that gets under your skin?

A:  Hostages!

Let me explain.

pronounced – ˈhästij
1.  a person seized or held as security for the fulfillment of a condition.
“the kidnapper had instructed the hostage’s family to drop the ransom at noon”

In THIS industry, I see so many people who will get a client to pay them to build a website for them and the developer will purchase the domain name for the client, in the developer’s name, and purchase the hosting for the client, in the developer’s name, and build the site.



The website belongs to the client.  It’s literally ‘their’ website and thus their domain name and their hosting.  But instead they are held hostage by the developer.  They don’t have their usernames and passwords, they don’t have their hosting login credentials etc.  If for whatever reason the developer doesn’t want to deal with the client any longer or the developer decides to no longer do development or the developer moves to another country or gets a divorce or has a child or (insert life changing event here) the client’s site is held hostage.

I guess it’s a matter of personal preference but this simply seems wrong to me.  Many times the developer will take this route because they want to get the client to pay them for maintaining the site.  Whatever the rationale is I simply don’t condone the practice.  This is why I make it a point for the client to purchase their own domain name and hosting in THEIR name as well as providing them with ALL of the information that they will need to edit their site and to make changes to their accounts.

The interesting thing is that when there is this level of transparency the client decides to turn the maintence over to you (which is what they wanted to do anyway because they don’t want to learn about web developing as a general rule) and is pleased with their product and their level of comfort that their website is indeed their own.

The same thing happens in the world of graphic design in that the designer simply doesn’t provide all of the necessary file types to the client and tries to charge the client an additional fee for them.  It literally makes my skin crawl.

Your price is your price.  Charge your fee.  If the potential client doesn’t want to pay it, fine.  However don’t lowball your price and hold the client hostage in the end to make more money in the long term.  It only engenders frustration and bitterness on the part of the client and since word of mouth is the best marketing, it’s also the best way to create a poor reputation for yourself.


About Author

Sekou McHenry is the CEO of DIRM Corp, a web design, graphic design and SEO firm. He also makes a mean gumbo. From scratch... Blindfolded.


  1. I have proposed changes to a number of clients sites and found out they were being held hostage by their previous designer and had to pay a fee to make the changes that I proposed. One even lost her domain name because the designer wanted to sell it to her for sone crazy fee. Totally unscrupulous.

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