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:
- Login information for the hosting company control panel (CP).
- FTP login information.
- Blog login information (this may be different than 1 and 2 above).
- Email address login information for each email account (you may have more than one email address for your domain, such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
- Other login information to auxiliary software, like membership software, forum software, content management systems, etc.
- Logins for Google Analytics and Google Adwords, if you use either of these services.
- 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.
- 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.