Several times a year I start working with a new client who has fallen out with their current website designer and wants to end their relationship. Let’s call that client Joe.
About 3 years ago Joe needed a website for his business. He knew little to nothing about the process and hired a small, local web designer to “handle everything”. The web designer bought Joe’s domain name, set up hosting and built the site. Joe was happy at first, but as the years passed the web designer wasn’t responsive when changes were needed. In addition, the cost of hosting seemed really high compared to what Joe’s associates told him they were paying. Talking to the web designer didn’t help and Joe decided to find someone else to manage his site.
Unfortunately, the web designer never gave Joe any passwords or login info for his hosting or domain. Emails to the web designer were no longer being answered at all and in phone calls the designer refused to provide the needed information. Eventually we found that the designer had just set up Joe’s site within her own hosting account – his account (and the accounts of other clients) were all bundled together, so separating them was nearly impossible.
Eventually Joe’s lawyer was involved and we finally received a full copy of his website and the information needed to move his domain registration. The process took more than 3 months and was extremely stressful for Joe.
I assured Joe that he wouldn’t have to go through that again. I walked him through setting up an account through HostGator. On HostGator the billing and control panel logins are separate. I didn’t keep the password for the billing account, just the control panel and uploaded his site to the new hosting and moved his domain. If he should want to move on to another developer after me he only has to change the password for the control panel and FTP accounts to shut me out. Note: FTP accounts are used to upload/download files to your hosting account.
Retain Ownership of Your Hosting and Domain
When having a site created, make sure:
- Your account is created with your name and information and isn’t mingled with that of your website designer
- That your billing information is separate from the control panel
- That you understand where to find and change FTP and control panel passwords
- That you save all passwords and make sure you get new passwords if they get changed
- Check your contract to language concerning the ownership of the hosting site and files hosted
By separating your hosting and domain name accounts from your website designer you are not only assured that you ultimately control the asset that is your website, but you will save yourself time and emotional capital when and if you change website designers.