4 Ways to Protect Yourself from an Unreliable Web DesignerPosted by Chris Garrett / May 9, 2013
Longevity in the web industry is scarce and reliability is even scarcer. It’s a common belief, but usually only associated with micro web design firms. Sadly, that is not always the case. The recent and sudden collapse of large Brisbane web firm Simjen has left many small businesses either without a website or without support.
Businesses go broke all the time. It’s not unusual, but when your web developer goes under, they usually drag you down too because they hold the keys to your website and sometimes domain.
4 ways to protect yourself – own the keys
1. Own your domain and have the access details on file.
Domain names are impossible to transfer if you don’t have consent from the other party. The transfer must be submitted on letterhead. So, if your web designer who can’t be contacted owns your domain, you have no way to recover ownership. You will have to wait until it expires and register it yourself.
2. Know where the DNS is pointed (I’ll explain this below)
DNS allocates where your name is pointed. You should see the details in the domain administration area. The settings will look something like this:
Often this will point directly to your web host, but sometimes it will point to a DNS management tool like Linode that handles all the directions for the web company.
3. Use an open source Content Management System (CMS)
Proprietary systems are often created by the web firm. You are usually locked into their hosting and are unable to move to a different developer with the current site. If you move away, you need to rebuild your site from scratch.
So, use an open source system like WordPress, Joomla!, or Drupal and make sure you have access to your server.
4. Keep your FTP or cPanel hosting access details on file
FTP details allow you to access the code of your website. If things are looking shaky with your web designer, you can download all the files and go find a different supplier.
Most shared hosting providers offer a cPanel or Control Panel where you can access your email account setup, backups and most importantly your databases. You should be able to make a complete backup of all files and database and take this elsewhere.
Apologies if this information was a bit technical. After all, that’s why you work with web specialists – so we don’t have to know the technicalities. However, these 4 key points are your insurance policy. They may be the difference between a seamless online presence and a whole lot of heartache.