What is a website audit? It’s running down the different parts of your website and checking who they belong to. Just because you own the domain name doesn’t mean you own everything on a site. Do you own the content? The images used for the site? Examining things like this are essential for the small business owner who can’t afford to be slapped with a suit due to misuse of images. A website audit takes inventory of everything on your site. Like a conventional audit, you want to break down your website into different parts.
Web design – Who owns the web design of your site? Was this done by yourself or an employee that is on your regular payroll? If this is the case, you own the web design of the site. You may want to get a copyright for this once you can afford. If the site design was created by a third party such as a contract employee, it is essential you have a written web design agreement that puts the ownership of the web design in your hands. A signed agreement with a web designer will make the website design your property. This should be clarified before a contract web designer begins working on your project. All of this should be outlined in a contract you present to the web designer. Be prepared to negotiate with a web designer and if you are a small business with limited startup capital, you may offer equity in the company as compensation.
Written content – Written web content is owned by the person who creates it, unless this person is a permanent employee for your company. If you hire a freelance writer to take care of the written content for your site, this content is theirs unless specified in the contract. As with working with a web designer, this must be designated in the contract. You may choose to hold on to permanent rights of the content or you may hold on to it for a year. After that, the writer is free to publish that content on other sites and receive compensation. This can be the case for evergreen content, which is content that’s always relevant.
Images – This is where many sites run into problems. Images have tight rules for posting on websites. If you do not own the images, you must always credit the source and link to the source. You should always try to find the original source for the image. If you pull an image from another site and link back to that site and it is not the original source, you can still be held liable for copyright infringement.