There are times in a business relationship with a digital marketing agency or web developer when for a variety of reasons, you want to take back control of your website from your developer. This may be because the relationship has broken down, you want to get a more competitive deal, you need to reduce costs, or you now have the resources to manage it in-house. Equally, if you have a good working relationship with your developer, like having a fence between good neighbours, it’s important to still have access to your website assets in case at some point you want to do any of the above.
Here’s a list of things you need to check before you start the recovery process:
- Can you login to your control panel for your domain (yourcompany.co.uk)?
- On which website hosting company is your website/WordPress installed?
- Can you login to your WordPress admin (www.yourcompany.co.uk/wp-login.php)? Can you see the “Plugins” menu item?
- Whose copyright notice is on the website? Was it assigned to you in writing?
- What is the relationship like with your developer?
Access to the Control Panel of Your Domain
If a web developer suggests that they take control of your website domain and move it over to their account, then please find another developer. Relationships change and you could ultimately lose your website and possibly even your domain. This has happened to a couple of our own prospective clients recently and so we have had to build an easy-to-expand single-page website quickly on a new domain.
If you control your domain, there are a lot of things that can be fixed.
Depending on your circumstances, there are a few steps that you may need to take to ensure that your greatest digital marketing asset (your website) is controlled by you- even if you have a brilliant relationship with your developer.
There are a huge number of supportive, cooperative professional developers and agencies out there. However, there are also unfortunately quite a few who believe it’s okay to register a client’s domain in their own name as opposed to the client’s and then not release it back should the relationship fail, or circumstances change, and outsourced help is no longer affordable.
This post is for people who:
- Want to manage the risk associated with outsourcing to a 3rd party
- Have fallen out with the developer
- Need to reduce costs and have no choice but to do it themselves
- Want to bring the management in-house due to expanding capability
Developing an Action Plan
So how do you progress? It’s a good idea to take note of the following:
- Objectives – What do you want to achieve?
- What do you own- and probably more importantly- what can you access?
- How is your relationship with your web developer/agency?
In terms of rescuing websites, we look at:
- Do you own the domain? This is getting harder to find out as Nominet is hiding key information from public view.
- Do you have the login details for where their domain is held? (We use Nominet.uk and dnswatch.info to see where the nameservers are held)
- Do you have the login details for their email and web hosting? (Quite often they are different, for all the right reasons)
- Do you have administrator access to their website? (i.e. when you log in to your website dashboard can you see the “Plugins” menu option)
Depending on how serious the situation is, there are various courses of action that we can take:
- Worst case is that we can build a flexible one-page site for £500+VAT on a new domain and we can also help the client move their email and other assets. Then over time we/you can grow the site in a structured way where you have complete ownership.
- We can migrate a website if we can get access to the domain and have administrator access to the website. (Some developers host on their own hosting and so won’t give you access which is appropriate, but you don’t have any control and can’t check backups etc.)
- In all instances, if a rescue is necessary (we do support websites developed by others) we set up a SiteGround account for the client and move the website onto it. This means that we have the tools to do a good job while you have full ownership and ultimate control. We then offer an optional ongoing website management service where we can ensure it’s as secure as possible, backed up and up to date.
- We also ‘reskin’ websites. Where an old technology was used to build a website, we’ll install Elementor and Elementor Pro and rebuild the pages, making it a lot easier for clients to make changes. SiteGround ensures that if anything gets broken, it’s easily fixed. We can also maintain/manage it for you depending on how well the website was written in the first place – we have seen some horrors. This approach means we don’t break the SEO so as far as Google is concerned the content is pretty much the same. In fact, the update usually helps SEO- when we did it with our own website, we saw a 50% increase in traffic.
Elements to Look for in a Website Proposal
With the above in mind, we have developed our processes so that we start with you in mind as well as thinking about how best to protect your greatest digital asset.
Website proposals are critical for you to understand exactly what you’re signing off on and are assured your requirements are being met. The easiest way to demonstrate it is to share what we propose to our own clients.
Our basic offer is usually along the following lines:
All of our website development is on WordPress and we use the website hosting company SiteGround, where we set up an individual account for you. While we will happily manage your site for you, it will be your own hosting and so you’ll have complete control.
We then set you up with the competitively priced GrowBig hosting. This provides backups, security checks, free Cloudflare for security and speed, tools to improve website speed and a free SSL certificate so that your site is secure. We can assist you with the setup of your account (so that it’s on your credit card). Once the setup is complete, we can manage it from there.
Here’s a rundown of our typical website development process:
- An initial kick-off meeting via Zoom to agree on the site structure and get a copy of your brand guidelines.
- The initial design is created to demonstrate the look, feel and site structure.
- On receiving feedback, the site is adapted and updated.
- The initial website design and menu structure are signed off.
- We’ll populate the site with your content and images. (We can supply royalty-free stock images and can write content for an additional charge)
- It’s then over to you to review the site
- Any changes implemented based on your feedback
- You sign off the completed site
- The site then goes live on your hosting
- The website is built to your brand guidelines. (Your brand/logo designer needs to supply these)
- Secure – your site will have an SSL certificate (https)
- Hosting is on your own SiteGround so you will have access to backups etc.
- Your site will be completely configurable – including the headers and footers which are normally coded and so difficult to change (We will show you how to add content should you wish to.)
- For more advanced updates the training is chargeable, or we can simply do it for you at cost.
- There is an optional low-cost security checker which we can setup
- Free Cloudflare for better protection and speed
There is a separate charge ongoing for keeping the site up to date (necessary in these times of robot hackers that lookout for vulnerabilities.) This can be discussed when the site goes live.
This project is invoiced in two stages. 50% on receipt of order and 50% on completion.
As you can see, there is a business and reputational risk to having a website, and we believe it’s something you should own and control, even if you leave it to others like ourselves to keep it managed and updated. I hope this article sheds some light on what you should be doing, especially if you’re asking yourself, ‘how can I get my website back from my developer?’. If you want more advice, you can read our tips on how to remove the drama from your web development.
We are very happy to have a chat with you about your options if you feel you are constrained by your current web developer. Click here to get in touch.