Your web designer has just completed your site and it’s live and available to see on the Web. You’ve thanked your designer for a job well done and you’re excited about the prospects of new customers and increased awareness of your business. What do you know about the setup, configuration and ongoing charges for your site?
When I work with new clients, I always give them the “run over by the truck” story. If I’m run over by a truck and can’t help them with their Web sites, have I given them enough information to give another designer so he can quickly get up-to-speed and continue maintaining their sites? When I take over site maintenance, I always ask for this information, and I am amazed and little data my clients sometimes have about their sites. If a designer leaves, falls ill, or is otherwise unable to continue work on a site, a site owner may be left with now knowledge to transfer for a new designer.
Before you pay your designer, make sure you have this key information about your site.
Is your domain name registered under your name? You NEED to make sure of this. If your designer or someone else registered your domain, you may not own your domain name. This can be DISASTROUS if you lose contact with that person and need to renew the registration or make change to your Web site. If there is one thing I stress to all clients, it’s to take control of domain name registration.
Do you know all the passwords for your site? Be sure to ask for passwords for the hosting control panel, FTP site, database, e-mail accounts, and any information pertaining to the security of your site. If your designer does not pass these along to you, you may not be able to update your site content, e-mail accounts, or other site aspects in the future.
How is your site configured? Some sites require special configuration because of features that you’ve requested. Examples of configuration details include whether it uses an SSL certificate, a database, and payment processing. Depending on the complexity of your site, your designer may have needed to alter the default site settings. Make sure you get documentation from your designer detailing any special considerations from the site that may not be readily accessible or understandable by a new designer.
Who is responsible for what aspects of your site? Hosting, email, domain registration, SSL certificate registration and payment processing may each be handled by a separate entity. Be sure to get the company name, phone number and Web site address for the billing and technical support contacts from these services.
How has billing been arranged? Hosting plans, SSL certificates, and other parts of your site or domain registration may be billed to you monthly, quarterly, yearly or in some other interval. Are these set up to automatically bill your credit card? If not, how will you be notified of a payment and how do you arrange payment?
Your Web site can be a vital part of your business, and it’s imperative that you have control of all its major aspects. For some of my clients, previous designers did not pass along this vital information, which left them vulnerable to a variety of maintenance, security, and other problems. Ask your designer to take an hour or so to document these Web site aspects for you. You’ll be glad you did!