SEO (search engine optimisation) trainer and Danny Richman published an opinion blog piece Why you Should Never let your Web Developers Host your Website. As established web developers and web hosts with many satisfied clients, we at Web Growth Consulting would obviously take issue with being tarred with same brush as a company that provided such a terrible service to Danny’s client.
He relates the sorry tale of Richard who’s website was down for 6 months, yes you read it right 6 months!
Richard* owns a specialist recruitment agency based in London. His website is crucial to the running of his business. It is the primary source of information for job seekers, employers, prospective recruiters and key influencers to his business. Without his website, Richard’s business is unable to function.
Richard’s website was built around two years ago by a web design agency based in London. They charged approximately £7,000 to build the site plus a maintenance contract of £250 per month. The web developers persuaded Richard to let them host his website as it would be easier to maintain and reduce his hosting costs. Six months ago Richard became aware of a technical issue where a significant proportion of the job applications never reached the office. The issue has cost Richard’s business several thousands of pounds. The developers then demanded £1500 to have the problem fixed which Richard grudgingly agreed to although he took the reasonable view that he shouldn’t have to pay to fix a website that wasn’t working to specification in the first place. Richard’s opinion hardened to the point where he refused to pay the invoice. The developers retaliated by locking Richard and his staff out of their website administration by changing passwords and taking down the website.
Although Richard tried to retrieve the website by contacting the web developer’s hosting company they couldn’t help as they did not have a direct legal agreement. The rights and wrongs of this case are now the subject of expensive court proceedings.
There are a number of issues here but here is a list of questions and requirements that will help you avoid the problems described.
Who owns and registers the domain name?
You need to own domain name or have the full details of where it is registered. It is quite possible for your website to be registered by your web developer and you to be named as the domain owner and a competent web developer will be able to
Can we have a regular backup of the website files?
Unless your website has unusual requirements your web developers should be able to regularly and easily provide a full backup of the website files and database so the website can be moved and restored with another hosting company. This can be requested legitimately as a doomsday scenario clause in your agreement.
If they won’t agree to this stipulation then it should ring alarm bells. They might make a small additional charge but they should be backing up your website regularly anyway.
Can we have admin rights over third party applications?
The basic one is Google Analytics where you should insist on full admin rights on your Google Analytics account. Other types of services such as API’s or Content Delivery Networks or video hosting might rely on third party accounts that you need to control.
What is the name of the company hosting my website and location of my website files?
Most web developers and even some smaller web hosting companies will rent server space or use a reseller account. If they are self-hosting then this again should ring alarm bells as the hobbyist cannot provide the same level of security or reliability as a professional data centre.
Can you provide us with full access to the website hosting Control Panel and website admin?
You need admin access to your website and the ability to view your hosting Control Panel.
Any service provider could potentially damage your business or business reputation. It’s a little unfair to pick on web developers as equally, a bad SEO contractor could get your website blacklisted by Google if they use unethical methods. If you ask some of the questions listed above of anyone hosting your website then you are taking many of the important steps required to protect your business against the nightmare scenario described.
* Name has been changed.