Look Under the Hood: 3 Rules for Buying a Website

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:

  1. First things first: Are there broken links or images on the site? Is it generally in good condition, or has it fallen into disrepair?
  2. What coding language is the site written in? Are you familiar with that language, or can you hire someone who is?
  3. If you’re unfamiliar with the technologies used, can you verify there's ample support online for issues that may arise?
  4. 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:

  1. Ask the seller for the name and designer of the theme and for a sample of the code.
  2. 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.
  3. Ensure any premium themes or plugins were legally acquired. Check the licenses to ensure you can continue using them.
  4. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Flippa’s birthplace, the SitePoint Forums, is a treasure trove for technical advice.
  3. 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.

This post originally appeared on the author's blog

Matt Mickiewicz started his first company while still in high school, and has leveraged his early success into three profitable businesses which have have published 50+ web design books in 20 languages, paid designers over $30 million for their graphic design work through 99designs, and helped entrepreneurs sell over $60 million in websites and domain names on Flippa.

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Photo By: jason wilson

About Matt Mickiewicz

Matt Mickiewicz is the CEO of Hired.com - a curated marketplace for recruiting Engineering Talent that's used by 500+ SF & New York based start-ups.

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