Finding a web designer or developer to build you a website can be a daunting process. What starts out as excitement quickly becomes a minefield of technical jargon, contracts and a whole lot of processes you never even knew about. You’re hit with copywriting questions, hosting questions and a whole gamut of other things that you understandably have no interest in. And why should you, that’s why you’re hiring someone to do it for you!
Now, before we even get into the nitty-gritty parts of a web build process, there is something you MUST remember to ask before anything else.
This question needs to be asked before you go rushing off to pick your website colours or sign any contracts.
This ONE specific question comes before all the other important questions that you should be asking before hiring a web designer. (Of course I will fill you in on those further down as well).
Not asking this question could cost you thousands in the long run or worse, you could lose your website completely!
So what is this all important question you’re banging on about, Belinda?
I’m so glad you asked.
It goes something like this…
Will I have full access to my website, hosting and domains?
You might be thinking this is an obvious question or a given. But I can tell you, my years of experience in this industry has shown me that you never assume anything when it comes to your access rights. Sadly, there are web designers and developers who believe it’s good business practice to force their customers to return to them whenever they need anything done. They do this by holding onto their login details and restricting the access levels of their customers to their websites and/or hosting. Restricting access levels means the client does not have full control, or potentially ownership, of their website. I tend to think of this as holding your customers to ransom. Anyone who forces you back to them so they can keep making money off you for things you should be able to do yourself isn’t good business practice in my book.
Most web designers who practice the honourable method of delivering a good product and ensuring their clients own the very site they paid good money for, will have their customers return to them anyway. 😉
What does full access to my website and hosting platforms mean?
Full access to your website means you will have the Administrator logins to your website. This allows you full control over the updates, edits and function of your website. There are several levels of access, as shown below, so don’t get confused thinking you got a login so you must be all good. Your login could be any one of these access levels. You need to make sure you are at access level “Administrator”.
You also need to make sure you have full access to your hosting account. This is where your website files live. Think of it as the keys to your website. If you don’t have this access, you could lose control of your website, or worse, lose it completely.
Why is it so important to have full access to my website?
Firstly, it’s your site and you own it once it’s paid in full or all contractual obligations are met from both sides. So it stands to reason that you should have full control over what you own once it’s handed over to you.
Secondly, your website is one of your biggest business assets. If you lose it or you can’t gain access to it, then you could lose your whole business investment.
What could happen if I don’t have full access?
As mentioned above, if you don’t have access or control over your website, then you could lose it completely. Leaving your website in the hands of your developer without you having the administrator logins or hosting logins could be dangerous. If they were to suddenly go out of business or get hit by a bus, how would you get your site back? Then there is the very small number of bad eggs out there who just disappear on their clients. Of course, there are lots of trustworthy designers and developers out there who won’t do the dirty on you. But, there are enough horror stories out there to suggest it’s not worth the risk. Ideally, both you and your developer should have access to your website and hosting, especially if your designer or developer is maintaining your site for you.
So, what are the other important questions to ask a web designer before hiring?
Glad you asked. Here are my tips on what to look for when hiring a web designer, as well as a printable list of key questions to ask a web designer to keep with you next time you’re hunting for a web designer or developer.
Looking for a quote on a new website or need a website revamp? Feel free to contact me or book a chat with me at any time.