Hiring a firm or freelance individual to professionally design and develop your website is a great idea. You save time and headache of trying to pull something together yourself and in a software application that you don’t know well. You end up with a professional looking and technically sound web presence when you outsource your website.
However, it’s important to remember that these firms essentially will have the keys to your office (your virtual office that is). You want to ensure the provider comes well recommended and that you have a contract in place to denote confidentiality, ownership and terms.
Beyond a basic contract though, you also need to ensure that you own the master set of keys (i.e. access details) for your website. Unfortunately, a few of our clients have learned some hard lessons here, and we’ve had to unravel the puzzle more occasions than we’d like to say—be it a falling out with the current provider or a provider who “goes dark” and MIA. If you work with outside providers, be sure you don’t make these common mistakes:
1) Failure to control domain and hosting accounts
Securing a new domain or setting up web hosting can be a daunting task if it’s not something you do every day. It’s okay to ask the firm you’re working with to set this up for you, but be sure these are setup under an email address that you control and that you have full login access to these accounts as well as are the listed owner of the accounts. If you don’t, you could find yourself a year or two down the road facing some intimidating issues that you are not sure how to handle, like domain or hosting renewals. Most often then you can have the web firm set up as a secondary/technical contact.
2) Assume they’ll always be there for your web update needs
Some of our clients have relied on friends, or friends of friends, to help with their web needs in the past. Inevitably the time comes when they want to overhaul their site or make updates, but their “web guy” has fallen off the face of the earth. Sadly for many of these clients, they have no idea how to gain control of their website, and it becomes a major headache to track down the access details. You (and we) may spend numerous hours on the phone with domain or hosting providers to prove your ownership, reset account logins and make changes.
At the beginning of your web project, be sure you obtain the login access to the hosting account as discussed earlier. And make certain you have a record for the FTP web server access, as well as an admin login if your site was created in a Content Management System, such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. Your developer can (and should) provide these to you.
By ensuring you avoid these two common mistakes, you’ll be in control of your domain and website, so making updates will be a cinch. If you get in a pinch, please give us a call. We can walk you through what actions to take or work on your behalf with the hosting providers.