Your website is the cornerstone of your business. Looking at website ownership details ensures you’re protecting your investment.
As a small business owner, you cannot do your job alone. But that doesn’t mean completely handing the reigns over to your tech guru.
Although you are a subject matter expert, you will need to enlist help to make every aspect of your business run smoothly. When hiring help, it is important for you to trust them as much as Batman trusts Robin.
Yeah… Batman trusts Robin, but have you ever seen Robin driving the Batmobile? Doubtful. The same is true about website ownership. There have to be limits because sometimes relationships change (or go bad).
One of the experts that you are likely to hire is an expert web developer.
I don’t want to give web developers a bad rap because most are awesome and completely trustworthy.
However, within every crowd of good people, there is the possibility of a hidden villain who can bring you and your business down. That’s why when you are hiring anyone to develop or support your website it is important to protect your assets like a superhero protects their city.
Here’s how to do it.
Why this Stuff Is Important
You might be thinking, no way, my bestie totally created my website. I’m good.
Here’s the dealio. In the course of my work, I’ve come across a few nightmare scenarios. Where things were great … until one day it wasn’t so great anymore.
In one case, a client lost her domain, email, and website – all her blog posts, contacts, everything – because the developer who owned all of her accounts got angry and stopped communicating. A hijacked website can kill a business.
I think they’re still in court. And this was a friend.
Domain companies look at who owns the domain. They don’t care if you let your service provider buy it for you. They care about who pays the bills and what name is listed. Period.
In earlier blog posts we’ve talked about how to change your relationship with your web developer and the importance of skimping on lattes instead of web developers. These are all strategies to help you get what you need.
But the number one, single most important thing you can do for your business is to own every single account tied to your website and grant access to people who work for you. If all else fails, just ask yourself: what would Batman do?
What Does Website Ownership Mean?
Let’s take a second to get really clear about accounts and website ownership details. We’ve talked a little about account ownership in earlier posts, but I’d like to clearly define it here.
You Pay the Bills Directly
Make sure you’re paying your website service provider for services only. You pay for your own domain, hosting, web platform, email, etc. – directly.
You have Administrative Account Access
Not only do you open the accounts and pay the bills, but you also have administrative access to all of the accounts.
You should always have the ability to grant and remove access to your business assets. This is true for all phases of your business – not just your website, but also things like accounting, and even email.
You Know Your Passwords
In order for a web developer to do their job properly, they will need to have access and create passwords to your hosting sites, domains, stores, and databases.
Although they need access to these accounts, it should be clear that you are the owner.
At no point should a password be changed without your knowledge. This will help to ensure that if they quit (or go rogue) you won’t be left in the dark.
You Know Where Your Stuff Is
During web development, you might not have access to the draft site. Developers sometimes work on their servers. They also need to make sure they get paid…
The point is, it’s important to know where your stuff is. If for no other reason, then for contingencies alone – accidents and natural disasters happen all the time.
Keep Track of Updates
Websites require multiple updates to create a seamless experience for the end-user.
Typically, it is the web developer’s job to stay on top of the necessary updates and ensure that they are carried out. However, it is a good idea for you to have knowledge of the necessary updates as well.
By keeping a calendar of when updates should occur you can check in with your developer and make sure that your website is in tip-top shape.
Understand Your Contract
Upon hiring a web developer, it is wise to have a contract in place and to understand that contract.
Your contract should allow you to change web developers as you see fit, or at specific points within the project.
Additionally, make sure it is understood that YOU own the website and everything that goes along with it.
Remember: they are working for you.