Why you should never give all of your website control to a developer

by | Jul 20, 2020 | Starting Out, Website, WordPress | 1 comment

One of the common stories that I hear from new members of the Supercharge Your Website Membership is that they have joined because they want to learn how to manage their website.

They have had to ask “permission’ to their website developer to change anything on their website and it’s costing them each time they make a change, so they’re not updating their website and it looks out of date.

When they really need something done and send an email, it takes days for the developer to reply, or they don’t reply at all.

They’re frustrated and want to take back control and it’s at this point they find me.

Sound familiar?

Having worked on “the other side” for clients I understand this situation perfectly and believe that you should never give all of your business website control to a developer.

You choose to use a developer because you think that it’s going to be easier for you in the long run.

They will take away the hassle of having to understand anything to do with the tech and all you need to do is provide amends and sign things off when they are ready.

Easy right?

But what if the relationship goes sour?

You might not be happy with the work that your developer has done on your website and query the payment terms (i.e. payment on completion).

They can in turn take your website offline.

I’ve seen very nasty situations where developers or contractors have even deleted client websites because of a spat over payment.

The trust you gave your developer in the beginning has backfired and when you look in detail at the set-up for the first time you realise you may not have access to anything that you can control on your website.

I hope that this never happens to you.

There are a lot of really lovely and trustworthy developers and website builders out there, but to avoid this type of thing happening to you, here are some things you can do:

Buy Your Own Domain Name

To avoid any dispute over who owns your domain name, you need to ensure that you have bought it from a domain name provider account that is yours.

I have heard of too many situations in which a client was never aware that they didn’t own their domain name and when they went to leave a working relationship with a developer that has gone wrong, wasn’t able to take their domain name with them.

All of that work you do on your website to get it seen by Google and get links on other sites will be wasted if you have to start again with a new domain name.

It also has an effect on any email hosting that you have connected to your domain name.

So if you have an email account that links to your domain i.e. vicki @ mybusinessdomain.com and you can’t update the records for where this is pointing because someone else has control of the DNS records, then you can’t even use your business email.

You’re then in control of the payment renewal and the DNS records should they need updating (and they’re easy to update!)

Treat your domain name like an extension of your company brand and be in full control of it as a business and never give all of your website control to a developer via the admin.

If you are in a situation where you don’t know who owns your domain name then use this tool to look it up: https://whois.domaintools.com

Buy Your Own Hosting

In previous years I had worked at companies that hosted websites or bought hosting on behalf of clients as it was such a great money maker.

We could charge hundreds and even thousands every year for hosting, and then use the excuse that we were maintaining control of the site files so that external parties or even the client could not access and accidentally delete things.

The agencies I used to work at treated clients like they were capable of deleting the whole website accidentally and clients didn’t mind not having to think about a technical cost that they could pay someone else to think about.

These days I firmly believe that every business should buy their own hosting for their website and have complete control over the source files.

You can then negotiate the price of the hosting yourself and not have a third party add a mark-up cost.

You can also choose the host based on your location, how easy it is to work with them and what options they can offer you as a business.

Ensure that you have admin control and that you give any third parties working on your website access that you can easily revoke.

if you need to find out who is hosting your website then start here: https://hostingchecker.com/

Ensure Your Have Admin Access

Ensure that you have admin access to your own website and that you are in a position where you can revoke the access of others.

I have seen time and time again situations where clients have not been given admin access to their own CPanel or WordPress websites because their developer has restricted access.

This stops you being able to add plugins, change your theme or even add new pages and content in some of the more extreme examples I’ve seen.

How can you manage your website if you have to ask every time a new page needs to be added?

You should have control of being able to determine what content and functionality appears on your own WordPress website.

Not sure if you have admin access to your own WordPress website?

Not sure who else has access?

Check out the users section here via the WordPress dashboard:

Never give all of your website control to a developer.

Then learn how to set-up and manage your users here.

Setup Your Own WordPress/Wix/Squarespace/Shopify Account

If you create an account with an online website builder tool such as WordPress.com, Wix, Squarespace or Shopify then I would recommend that you set up this account with your own business name, using an email for the account that you have access to and then give access to a developer/designer.

Don’t let anyone buy this on your behalf as you’ll be in the same position as those above who don’t own their own website hosting and as such have restricted access to the site files.

Use a tool like www.lastpass.com to give access to your account without giving out the password and then should things go wrong, you can revoke access.

Have a Contract in Place

The phrase “never give all of your website control to a developer” might not apply to you as you really need to use one.

In order to have a successful relationship with your developer, designer or agency you need to make sure that you have a contract in place.

There should in, in writing, an agreement as to how you will both work with each other and what to expect in terms of the tasks, deliverables and the timeframes.

As you define this contract, ensuring that you question the ownership of the domain, hosting and admin access can really help avoid any misunderstanding down the line.

You can then query how much control you will get and what the cost will be to continue updating your website after it has gone live.

if you wait until your site has gone live to discuss this it will be way too late.

Do It Yourself

I’m of the camp that says you don’t need a developer at all to create a website.

If you have managed to buy your own domain and hosting (a huge feat for many who had previously identified as “technophobe”), then you can easily get WordPress set up yourself and use a theme builder like Divi to create a design that you love.

Custom design websites are for massive brands.

You can easily use a pre-built theme, layout or template to get started and then update your website with the cash you make as you get bigger.

If you are starting out with your small business then it’s worth weighing up the perceived cost of a developer versus learning how to it on your own.

There are some really good resources out there (including my own WordPress Bootcamp) that can show you how to build a website yourself.

Learning this stuff yourself can empower you to learn even more about how to master online marketing tech.

Don’t leave it in the hands of someone who’s not part of your core business and never give all of your website control to a developer.

1 Comment

  1. Sharon

    I totally agree with this. Even as a freelancer myself, I would always insist on clients buying their own domain and hosting with a reputable company.


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