Has Your Website Designer Disappeared?

Posted by on Dec 04 2008

A strange phenomena has been spreading like a virus over the past few months. In the past four weeks alone, three of my clients have told me that their website designer or virtual assistant has “disappeared.” No return phone calls, unanswered emails. Gone, gone, gone.

Kidnapping? Hardly. When the economy gets tough, many website designers and virtual assistants (small business owners themselves) simply go out of business. Some get full-time jobs in corporations, some just shut their doors. If they use a lot of sub-contractors to fulfill project demands, they find that the sub-contractor pool is drying up, so they become less responsive to your voicemails and emails.

This is a huge problem for small business owners, who rely upon their website designer or virtual assistant to maintain and upgrade their websites for them. There’s not much you can do if your website designer or VA goes out of business. But you can protect yourself and prepare yourself to move to a new website designer. You just need to have access to all your files before your website designer disappears.

When we design websites for our clients, we always give them the following information immediately after the site is complete. Use this checklist to get control of your website for the future:

  1. Login information for the hosting company control panel (CP).
  2. FTP login information.
  3. Blog login information (this may be different than 1 and 2 above).
  4. Email address login information for each email account (you may have more than one email address for your domain, such as office@domain.com or mary@domain.com or info@domain.com).
  5. Other login information to auxiliary software, like membership software, forum software, content management systems, etc.
  6. Logins for Google Analytics and Google Adwords, if you use either of these services.
  7. A copy of all your website coding, graphic, audio, video and animation files, including the original source files for all your graphics and Flash files (typically Photoshop for graphics and Flash for animation), on CD or DVD.
  8. Written confirmation that YOU own the content of the website and have the right to transfer it, edit it, submit it to Federal Copyright Office, sell it, etc.

For security purposes, if your website designer disappears, change ALL login IDs and passwords on your accounts. In addition, if you have given your website designer your credit card information, you may wish to cancel the card and have a new number re-issued.

I think we may see more of this happening in 2009. I recommend you get the above items from the person who maintains your website today so that you have full control of your website — and your internet marketing — for the future.


4 comments for now

4 Responses to “Has Your Website Designer Disappeared?”

  1. JanNo Gravatar

    Thanks, Karyn! Who would have thought that we need to know these things! As usual, you come to the rescue not only with good advice, but the very specific questions we need to ask and explicit information we need to collect. Thanks so much for standing behind us small business owners.

    04 Dec 2008 at 6:16 pm

  2. Karyn GreenstreetNo Gravatar

    You’re welcome, Jan. We’ve moved or updated so many existing websites for new clients over the past two months, and we were always asking for the same information over and over again. Finally, we had compiled this list in our heads and figured we’d better get it on paper.



    05 Dec 2008 at 5:56 am

  3. Emerging VANo Gravatar

    Hi Karyn,

    I am a professional virtual assistant and have benefitted from your classes and products. Thank you!

    Your article clearly addresses a situation for those who use web designers. However, putting virtual assistants in the same article is truly wrong. A professional virtual assistant is a business partner who doesn’t just close up shop and disappear. We have strong values and standards which govern how we terminate our business relationships.

    There are a lot of ‘virtual workers’ who claim to be virtual assistants, charging below market rates. It’s the old adage ‘you get what you pay for’. When you talk about shopping for a virtual assistant business partner, or online business manager, please feel free to reference the FREE Registry at Assist University at http://www.assistu.com.

    Thank you for your amazing workshops and products.

    Emerging VA

    18 Jun 2009 at 7:22 am

  4. Karyn GreenstreetNo Gravatar

    Hi, Kim,

    While I respect and hear your comments, I have to tell you that my clients ARE experiencing their VA closing up shop, especially in this economy.

    Three times this year (2009) different clients have told me that their VA or website designer went out of business and they were having a hard time getting the information they needed about their website. Twice this year we’ve had to work with VAs and website designers to get the login information and website files of our clients. In the third instance, the client got the information directly from the VA without our assistance. In 2008, we had to help five clients get their information from either a VA or a website designer, as the VA or website designer did not reply to phone calls or emails from the client.

    In all these instances, the VA and/or website designer had been running an honest, respectful and sincere business. These were not fly-by-night companies or below-par moonlighters.

    Closing up shop isn’t always about values and standards. Sometimes the economy hits a VA, website designer, or any other small business owner very hard, or they have personal reasons for closing their business quickly (illness, family responsibilities, better job offer, etc.). Most business owners are serious about their business and their clients, and most business owners will not leave their clients high-and-dry if they have to close down their business. But occassionally a business owner needs to close their business quickly, and does not reply to phone calls or emails for weeks at a time.

    Even if the VA or website designer doesn’t close their business quickly, it’s important for the business owner to have all the pertinent information about the website (logins, files, copyrights, etc.).

    Many VAs manage the day-to-day maintenance of a website. In some cases, the original website designer is no longer in the picture and the only person with this important data is the VA.

    I recognize that most VAs and website designers WILL do everything in their power to provide all important information to clients before closing their business. However, on the chance that this does not occur, or the business owner is aware that the VA or website designer is closing the business, the above list helps the business owner to know what information they need to get from the person who maintains their website.


    18 Jun 2009 at 7:55 am

Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Website Planning
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