14 Feb Make Sure Your Web Designer Does These 6 Things To Protect YOU
There are many shady characters in the world of web design. This same statement can be said about every single other industry as well, but this blog focuses on the topic of website designers.
A True But Not Too Uncommon Website Disaster
A few years ago, a client of mine had her website hosted with the same web designer for 10 years. That web designer decided to suddenly get out of the business. Instead of contacting his clients, he simply vanished. When it was time to renew her domain, as well as do some pertinent website updates, my client couldn’t get in touch with this person hosting her website.
We were able to finally track him down, however, we couldn’t get him to respond in time before disaster set in. The domain was set to expire in a few short days, and my client could not renew the domain because she did not have access to the domain. Worse than that, she found out the domain was registered in the web host’s name and not in HER name. Therefore, she didn’t technically own her domain and wasn’t able to renew with the registrar since she was not listed as the owner. The host finally responded on a Monday, two days after the domain expired.
The domain went into an auction and my client wasn’t able to reclaim her own domain. A company three states away won the auction because they had deeper pockets. Therefore, she lost her domain, her website, and all email addresses her clients had been using for the past 10 years. This caused tremendous headaches and unnecessary costs to contact each client to let them know about the new email address as well as the time and design cost of a new website. For a year, she had clients calling her telling her that their emails sent to her were bouncing back. This all could have been avoided if only the domain was originally registered to the client’s name.
In order to prevent a disaster such as this happening to you, make sure your web designer and host does the 6 things below. This will protect you and your intellectual property – YOUR WEBSITE.
6 Things to Make Certain Your Web Designer and Host Does For You
- Register Your Domain In YOUR Name – It is so common for web designers to register YOUR domain name in their name. Whether this is out of laziness, ignorance, or malicious intent, it is a dangerous practice for the client. Laziness occurs because they don’t want to take the time to enter different names, addresses, phone numbers, and email addresses for the different domain contact fields. There are three different contacts for your domain: Registrant (owner of the domain), Administrative (representative of the owner – can be contacted for decisions if owner can’t be reached), and Technical (Web designer/host – the one who deals with the technical stuff).
- Give You Access To Your Domain Account – So what happens if you can’t get in touch with your web host? Or worse, if they are holding your domain hostage so you have to keep paying them for services that you no longer want from them? If you don’t have access to your account, you are at the mercy of that person. In order to protect yourself, you should have access to your own domain account. If your web designer won’t or can’t do that, move along to find one that will. As web designers/hosts, we are here to serve our clients and not to put them in potential difficult or harmful situations.
- Install Google Analytics – Google Analytics is a free and powerful software that allows you to track data about your website visitors. It shows you the number of visitors to your site, some of the keywords used to find your site, location of the visitors, top pages viewed, and a ton of other useful information. I’ve seen so many “web designers” create websites and not have this installed on the sites, which is a HUGE disservice to their clients. This information is indispensable if you want a successful SEO campaign.
- Give YOU Admin Access to Google Analytics – You should have admin access to your analytics. PERIOD. If you are currently paying for SEO services to help improve the website rankings on the search engines, you MUST have access to this data. This helps you determine if the SEO company is actually doing their job and helping you. If you do not have an SEO service, this data is still extremely helpful in determining which areas of your site you need to further develop. For example, if you are receiving a lot of visitors to a particular page, but you don’t notice many people calling or purchasing the service or product on that page, you may need more to list more information on that page describing the service. If you don’t have access to your analytics, it’s likely because your web host/designer does’t want you to see how few visitors are actually visiting your website, showing that this web designer doesn’t really understand SEO at all.
- Give YOU Admin Access to Your Website – What if you notice a spelling error on your website in the middle of the night? A spelling error can be embarrassing, and you want to change it right away. If you could simply log on your site and make the change quickly, you could sleep better that night. Alternatively, if you don’t pay for website update services, you need to be able to do simple edits on your site to save yourself money. It may be a simple update to a photo or updating pricing on your menu of services. To do this you need Admin access. But don’t fear it. With modern website platforms, you don’t need to know the complicated coding languages to make simple updates. If you can use a typical word processing software such as Microsoft Word, you can do simple text and photo updates on your website.
- Regular Backups of Your Website – Your web host should be making regular backups of your website data. Like your personal computer, web hosting servers are susceptible to viruses and other attacks. If the hosting server crashes, those backups are critical to quickly restore your website. It’s not a bad practice to ask for a backup copy for you to store after major updates.
Before you agree to a project with a web designer, make sure you will be protected by asking about the above 6 things. If you are signing a contract, make sure these are written in your contract. You’ll find many companies who won’t give you all of the access above, with many of them being former phone directory companies who prey on small business owners who don’t fully understand the process. Your website is your property. Protect yourself and use a company who has your best interests in mind for your project.