Unethical Web Developers – Why Dental Practices Get Taken

Woman avoiding unethical web developersMany dentists have websites that they don’t actually own. Even sadder is the fact that they may not know it. The problem is unethical web developers who take advantage of the dentist’s limited knowledge of website design.


When dentists don’t ask the right questions of a web developer, they can get taken. Even worse, they may never realize if developers hold their website hostage. Usually, they don’t find out until they decide to switch web developers and discover a situation where they no longer have any control.

When your practice decides to partner with a developer or marketing company to create or maintain your website, you’re placing a lot of trust in them. You’re essentially handing over the keys of that website to them. The most important thing is to be sure that you have a copy of the key as well. Unethical web developers hope that you’ll never ask for one.


You don’t want to entrust your practice’s website to just anyone. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to find an honest and ethical web developer. Dreamscape Marketing frequently encounters general dentists and specialists with horror stories about previous web developers or marketing companies. After being burned, they often come to the table suspicious and not a little bitter.


Unethical web developers poison what should be a highly productive relationship for both parties. In its experience creating and/or maintaining hundreds of healthcare websites, Dreamscape Marketing has identified a number of ways to detect web developers dentists shouldn’t be dealing with:


No access (or limited access) to your practice’s website

Hopefully, when a company hosts your website, you’re happy with the results. In many cases you are… unless you come to realize you’re basically locked out of your website. Always be certain that you have access to the following:


  • All necessary contact information for the company hosting your website
  • The URL, username and password from the vendor
  • The FTP server name, address username and password so that you can access the files on your website
  • Access to the WordPress dashboard so that you have 24/7 access to your website’s database
  • Get a list of all software used in the creation of your website. Also, find out about any licenses or fees required to use that software (for example, some of WordPress’ plugins aren’t free).


We’ve heard horror stories from dentists and specialists who were locked out of their own websites by unethical web developers. Sometimes, the web developer simply disappears and leaves no updated contact information. Even the smarter dentist get taken by unethical or fly-by-night web companies.

Dentists have enough on their plate without having to worry about experiencing something like this. There’s nothing worse than having to leave a website full of effective marketing content (and maybe even a domain name) behind and start all over again.


Make Sure You Actually Own Your Practice’s Website

Many dentists are surprised when they learn their websites don’t belong to them. This happens when unethical web developers tell them that because they were responsible for the website design, they (the web designers) own the website rather than the clients.

A majority of dentists operate solo practices where they carefully control all aspects of the office. What a shock it is to discover that your website may be completely out of your control! When you sign a contract with a web developer or marketing firm, be absolutely certain you owe the website outright. This should never be up for debate. You should owe the design, the code and the content (stock photography is another matter). Therefore, should the vendor put up resistance to this request, find someone else to do business with.


Own Your Domain Name

All too often, dentists want a website and they ask a web developer to purchase the appropriate domain name on their behalf. It never occurs to them that if the web developer buys the domain name, it belongs to the web developer. At that point, they operate the “kill switch” on your website. If the relationship doesn’t work out for some reason, unethical web developers can hold the domain name hostage and demand a tidy ransom to release it to the dentist.


When this happens, a web developer will rarely do the right thing and sell your domain name back to you for what it cost to buy it in the first place. Unfortunately, unethical web developers will charge the dentist a handsome little “fee” to get the domain name back. The lesson is clear: purchase a domain name in your name, not in someone else’s. If a web developer balks at this, find another web developer.


Dentists Can Avoid Unethical Web Developers

Dentists have many options available to them for web development that enable them to work with ethical marketers. For more information about ethical marketing and your dental practice website, contact us at 888.307.7304 or by email info@dreamscapemail.com. Let’s discuss how to take your practice website to the next level.