Most small businesses rely on an outsourced Web designer to manage their Web site. With the economy improving, not all of those resources are sticking around. They are instead heading back to work for other companies themselves and they all handle the transition differently. Some are great - providing their client with well-documented processes and information about their site. Many simply fade away. If you're outsourcing your Web design and development to a freelancer or independent firm, here's a few tips on making sure you're ready if you're forced into a transition.
About Your Web Site
Most people don't think about their site - they just want it to work. That's understandable, but keeping some basic information will help your next developer. At a minimum (even if you don't use it), you should have or have access to:
- Information on who is hosting your Web site
- Login/password for your hosting partner's control panel
- Login/password for your Web site's administration
In my team's experience, we don't typically have trouble with the last one. It's the first two that are often missing - my new clients not even aware of who is hosting the site. That can be a problem if the previous developer left you in the lurch. Moving a site is nearly impossible when you don't know where your site's files and source code are being stored. For most sites, you'll just need to know who is hosting the site (usually GoDaddy, Hostgator, or Bluehost if it's just a simple brochure site). If you have access to the hosting partner's control panel, we can typically get everything else we need from there.
About Your Information
The second most important part is having copies of your site and the supporting data. This is less important if you have the information in the previous section, but if you don't you should at least have copies of your files and a regular backup of the database. This is especially important for Web applications because if you don't have access to the most current information and you don't have a regular backup, you stand to lose a lot of information (or a lot of your customer's information).
If you're working with a Web application, the hosting location is likely different from your Web site. While both feel the same (and are accessed the same way), a Web site (your typical WordPress or Joomla installation with information about your company) has very different requirements from a custom application and the two are often hosted separately.
If you've been left in the lurch by a freelancer or if you're looking to make a change, contact us. We'll work with everyone involved to make sure it's a smooth transition.