Over the past year, Hilltop Web Services has become one of the fastest growing divisions of our company. Our Web Services team offer a wide range of services and solutions from cleaning and securing hacked Websites, to rescuing Websites from lazy (and horrible) Web developers. The team thought it would be good to share the following insights to help you when dealing with Web developers:
Own your own domain and maintain access to it.
Allowing your Web developer to register or even transfer your precious domain to their own account can cause unneeded stress when the time comes to move to a new developer or Web host. The transfer process can typically take a week or longer to move from one provider to another, and also requires careful coordination between both the sender and receiver.
Maintain administrative login(s) to your Website.
Make sure that you have MASTER Website access credentials, sometimes known as 'Super User" access. Always make sure that this account uses a secure password and is only available to the correct personnel. Non "Super" users that need to access the Website should only be granted a user account with the permissions to perform limited tasks.
Maintain full access to your Website hosting platform.
Your Website is your property and you should always maintain access to it — at all times. Even though you may never need this access day-to-day, you will someday. Ensuring that you have the ability to "lock out" your developer in the event of an unfortunate separation can save you a lot of headache.
Set clear expectations for your Web developer
Ensure that you always have an agreement in place that sets clear expectations between both your company and developer. This agreement may include things such as ongoing Website maintenance services or Website hosting and management. This should act as a type of guarantee that your Web developer will keep your Website up-and-running as expected. It is not untypical for unscrupulous Web developers to do a great job in the beginning getting your site up and running, cash your check, and then put Web support on the back-burner (until you scream!).
Have realistic milestones in development, but hold them to itHold your developer to milestones that are agreed upon at the beginning of the project. If he says it will take ten weeks to get a new site up, check in once a week if you have not received an update to make sure that your new prized-asset will be delivered in a timely fashion. A good developer will always provide progress updates to milestones reached. Be fair though, sometimes Web developers do encounter hiccups, however this should not negate the need to provide you notice of any delays.
Do not threaten legal action on your Web developer (unless you REALLY need to)
There may be times where you are fed up with your developer and just want them to cooperate and get things done. Only under extreme circumstances should you threaten them legal action. Many times legal threats end up causing more harm than you intended. These types of threats can cause your developer to go even further into "hibernation mode" and reject all forms of communications outside of email (so they have a documented trail). We have seen time and time again that the threat of legal action causes more stress on the relationship than it needed. Be tactful.
Remember that your Website belongs to YOU!
What you want, goes (within reason of course). Many times a developer will have ideas on how to improve your Website. Hear them out as they are the experts, but know that you always have the final say. Your Website is an asset that represents your company and brand. Many times a developer may not know the inner politics of your organization and suggest/make changes that not in line with company philosophy, strategy or vision.
Research well for a developer, cheap is not always the best.
It is important to perform your due diligence when courting a new Web developer. Ask for a portfolio of previous projects they have completed, and ALWAYS ASK FOR REFERENCES!
Be weary of 'Web Speak.'
Many times Web developers will try to oversell by using a lot of great sounding technical Web jargon. Don't let their technical details overwhelm. If ever in doubt, ask them if they can "break things down" into layman's, or perform your own additional research and due diligence.
What is your Web developer (or host) doing to secure your site?Your Website will always be a target for cyber criminals and malicious entities. Without keeping your Website up-to-date and in good health, your site will become vulnerable and subject to cyber attacks that can alter your Website content — or even take your entire Website down. Always ensure that your Web developer is taking ample measures to keep your site up-to-date and locked down from intruders — provided that you have a Website maintenance agreement in place. No Website maintenance agreement means no protection!
Hilltop Consultants has performed countless Website recovery missions on behalf of our clients, saving them from either a hacked Website or a rogue Web developer. Some of our rescue missions may have been prevented by following the above guidelines. Allowing Web developers to have full-control over your domain, hosting and content – while keeping you totally locked-out is not recommended.