Your big, fat website problem becomes our team’s work when you choose us to build your brand online. A company website is the most important piece of online marketing collateral for most brands. Chances are you spent several thousand dollars to have it built. What’s surprising is how many business owners have no specific knowledge about their website. I totally get this because their passion is not the world wide web. But in today’s digital age, no business can be hands-off when it comes to managing their online brand.
Unfortunately, most business owners learn the hard way that they’ve lost control. And more times than not, I’m the lucky person that gets to break the bad news.
Here are refrains I hear often at client kick off meetings:
“A local college student | brother of the owner | freelancer friend or “great guy we know” … built our website, but s/he is not around any more…….”
The conversation continues and the story unfolds. Management teams look at me sheepishly as they answer my increasingly targeted questions. Their answers include:
“We have no idea where our website is hosted.”
“We’re not sure what we pay for hosting, but we can probably ask accounting and find out….”
“Where our URL was purchased is a mystery, we bought it over 10 years ago!”
“We can’t make changes to our site and it’s driving us crazy.”
“We’ve lost track of our password log ins. They’re probably in a file somewhere, but we can’t find it.”
“Customers tell us they’ve filled out the contact form on our website, but we never get those emails, it’s like they just disappear!”
I hear these remarks regularly from smart, successful people. In my view, these business owners are the walking wounded of the digital age.
Over the years we’ve helped clients solve these big, fat problems in all kinds of ways; from tracking down usernames and passwords, to moving websites to secure hosts, to discovering that clients have multiple websites they did not know existed. Perhaps the sorriest news I deliver is that a client’s URL was originally purchased by someone outside of the company, and the business doesn’t own their online address. A purchase that amounted to about $10 turns into a monumental brand bust for the company.
Top Risks of a Hands-Off Policy
- By abdicating control of your digital assets, you the business owner become your company’s biggest security risk.
- Whatever money you invested in your website could be lost, along with everything associated with it.
But wait, this mess is completely avoidable! Any business owner can maintain control and ownership of their website, no matter their level of technical prowess. If you’ve lost control of your website, no worries. My team and I will commit to the journey to getting you back on your feet.
Here is what you need to know to stay in control:
1. How was your website built?
Is it built using a CMS [content management system] like WordPress? Is it flash? Is it built using all HTML? Is it on a site builder like Go Daddy or Squarespace? If you paid for it you should know what you paid for.
While you’re at it, know the age of your website and when it was last serviced. All businesses should be updating their website regularly, just like when you take your car in for an oil change, or visit the dentist for a six month cleaning. You do this because you do not want your car to break down (you really need it!), nor do you want the pain or expense of root canal! It’s the same thing with your website. Neglect it at your peril.
2. Where is your website hosted?
Know with whom or what company your website is hosted and the username and password to your account. Better yet, know your FTP access and log in credentials.
With the exception of hosted solutions like site builders, if you’re hosted somewhere that doesn’t offer you basic access to your hosting account (where your website lives), you and your business are at the complete mercy of that company or person.
If you find yourself in this tough spot – demand access to your site and do whatever you need to do to move your website to a trusted hosting platform.
3. Where is your domain registered?
It’s common [although inconvenient and cumbersome] for people to register a domain in one place (such as Go Daddy), and host the website elsewhere. We’ve tracked down websites in foreign countries and far flung lands. Be sure you know where your domain is registered and the username and password to that account. If you aren’t sure, find out.
And even more important, confirm that you actually own your domain and that it’s not under the control of someone else like the webmaster who originally built your site! Letting someone buy your URL is under their name or company is not a good thing.
4. How do you access the admin panel of your website?
If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, your website has an administration area. You should know your username and password to your dashboard so you can maintain and update your website. Your website is at risk of crashing or being hacked if it is not maintained properly. But that’s a whole ‘nother blog post.
5. Where is your license information?
It’s common for website to be constructed using scripts, software, plug ins and even licenses for themes and sliders. You should have all the licensing information for anything used to build your website. This includes receipts or licenses from purchased stocked photos. If you don’t know where your licenses and permissions are, you cannot fight off a take down notice.
These are just the basics. And, the more you know about your website, the easier it is for you to manage it with in house professionals or outsource it to a trusted and experienced company.
Never forget ~ It’s your website. You paid for it!
Always ensure you have complete control of your website, and never abdicate complete control to an outside agency. You don’t need to become a webmaster yourself, you just need to be in control and in the right hands. The best web development partners will always keep you in control of your assets.