Changing to a Different Web Provider Can Be Tricky – Make Sure You are Prepared
Unfortunately, there comes a time in nearly every business owners life where they have to part ways with their old web designer/developer and switch to a new provider. Does the following story sound familiar to you?
My web designer did a great job initially setting up my website. Now, suddenly, he/she is too busy and I can’t get them to do anything for me. They don’t even respond to my emails. I’m tired of dealing with this person and need to switch to a more attentive web person.
I hear this story all of the time. It’s a problem you as a business owner should never have to face (but you likely will face it). To top it all off, there’s a level of fear behind these stories. You’ve invested time, money, and effort into building your online presence. Your current web person quite likely has ALL the keys to your existing online presence. They do in fact have sufficient power to take you offline at any moment. Or worse.
So how do you switch to a new web person without risking everything you’ve built online to date?
5 Things To Do During Your Web Designer Switch
1) Quietly find a possible replacement before notifying your current web provider. As frustrated or angry as you might be right now it’s a bad time to react. Some web designers will take it too personal and go on the offensive. That’s not a battle you want to get into because frankly it’s a battle you will lose. Or at least, a battle that will cost you far more than it’s worth. So discretely find a replacement web provider before confronting the situation. Be sure not to promise your replacement the job quite yet.
2) Request all of the usernames and passwords that your current web person has on file. It is your right to have this information and under no circumstances should your developer refuse to provide you with your access details. Make this request before letting them know you are parting ways. Just tell them you are missing some of them on your own records or that you forgot your access details. This is a routine request web developers get and you should act as such. When you get them (it could take awhile if they are indeed being non-responsive to you), make sure they are all there. You should receive access details for the following:
- Website hosting
- Domain registration
- Website CMS (such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or various other website editors you may use)
- Social Media
- Email Addresses
- Google Account(s)
Now, your web person might never have had access to all of these things. But if you think they did, make sure you get those details from them.
3) If you are “locked in,” get your replacement to make the best website backup that they can. It’s common that a web provider will lock you into a proprietary system. This could mean they have you on their personal web host, put you on a proprietary content management system (CMS), or used their own private account to register your domains. Basically, if you are paying your web person to host your website or register your domain, then you’re locked in at some level. I could write a whole other article on the merits of avoiding web vendor lock-in.
In any case, get your replacement to make the best website backup they can with the access information you have available. It may cost you a few hours of time with them but it is worth it. Provide your replacement with as many access details as you can for your website. They should know what they need in order to accomplish the job you asked them to do.
4) Now confront your current web person and try to work it out. If you like the person and feel they’ve been providing unacceptable service to you… Well, let them know they are about to lose your account because of it. Try to have a constructive conversation with your current web person without compromising your requirements. If you can’t work it out or aren’t comfortable with the results, then kindly let them know you are switching and would appreciate their cooperation with your new web provider. Tell them who your replacement is and make it clear that they are authorized to work on your behalf.
5) Notify your replacement to complete the full switch and to secure your access from the old web developer. This step is something you’ll have to trust your replacement web person with. Your replacement will need to understand your current situation and then what to do to free you from the old web designer. The new web designer may need to put you on a different web host or transfer domain registration. Make sure they are providing you with all the usernames and passwords as they are created/changed on your behalf.
Reduce Your Risk Before Even Getting Into a Web Provider Switch
Switches happen. Even if things seem great right now with your current web provider. Hopefully, it continues that way for you! However, this is no reason to become complacent. Be sure to ask your web designer for all the passwords they create or update for you. Then store those passwords in a safe place. Even if you don’t fully understand what they are for. They might come in handy some day.
If your web designer refuses to do this… Fire them. They will be causing you unnecessary risk and are not looking out for your best interests. Never trust anyone who keeps information from you.
Take a Deep Breath
This article has been about reducing your risk while switching website designers. I hope you never have to use the advice here. However, follow it closely if you find yourself switching web providers. It could save you from a lot of sleepless nights. Despite following the 5 things to do during your web designer switch, everything may not go smoothly. Just try to be the bigger person and only involve your lawyers if absolutely necessary.
Oh, and if you are a web designer and reading this article… May I leave you with a final word? You are in a service-based industry. You might be good at web stuff, but you need to be just as good at customer service. Treat those leaving as well, or better, as those starting new work with you. No matter how frustrated, angry, or injustly treated you are: always give people the best and kindest service possible. You will only find great success and reward in time.
Why not share some of your own stories or challenges? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article! Write your comments below.