When buying a website, there are several aspects of due diligence that you must adhere to, especially when researching the seller and their claims. It’s easy to forget the more technical aspects of buying a website and leave the technical questions to the end of the sale — but technical due diligence deserves time and effort. After all, you wouldn’t buy a car without first having a look under the hood!
Rule #1: Ask Specific Questions
If you’re buying a custom site, and feel a little bit out of your depth, here are a few basic questions to ask before closing the deal:
- First things first: Are there broken links or images on the site? Is it generally in good condition, or has it fallen into disrepair?
- What coding language is the site written in? Are you familiar with that language, or can you hire someone who is?
- If you’re unfamiliar with the technologies used, can you verify there’s ample support online for issues that may arise?
- How reliable is the site’s hosting? Ask the seller for uptime reports, and look up the host’s reputation in reviews.
Rule #2: Avoid WordPress Woes
Many websites that are bought and sold are WordPress platforms. These sites are fairly straightforward to use and modify, but there are a few things worth checking out:
- Ask the seller for the name and designer of the theme and for a sample of the code.
- Ask for a list of all the plugins used on the site, and research any unfamiliar ones. If any of them seem to be unsteadily written, have replacements ready.
- Ensure any premium themes or plugins were legally acquired. Check the licenses to ensure you can continue using them.
- If you’d like to modify the site, how much development time can you expect to spend on the site? Would you be better off hiring someone to make a few tweaks?
Rule #3: Find Helpful Resources
Buying a website with unfamiliar elements can be a fun challenge, as it forces you to learn new techniques quickly. Here are a few resources that can help you bring your technical skills up to scratch:
- The WordPress community is known to be helpful and inclusive. Spend some time on their support forums and on their user sites like WPCandy and WPLift.
- Flippa’s birthplace, the SitePoint Forums, is a treasure trove for technical advice.
- Or if you’re more of a visual learner, you might like the courses at Flippa’s sister company, Learnable.
Don’t let the technical aspects scare you away from buying a website. If you apply these three rules, and take time to do your due diligence, you will have no problem confidently closing the deal.
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