Are You Parting Ways with Your Web Designer?
Are you parting ways with your web designer? If so, make sure you ask them all the important questions before they leave. Unless you’ve been incredibly involved in the process (and even then), there are likely things you don’t know about your website that you may need in the future.
Why do you need to go through this extra work now? Well, you may not be able to get into contact with your web designer later on. It’s better to be on the safe side and ask your web designer about your site details now while it’s fresh in their mind.
Not sure what questions to ask? We collaborated with one of our security experts and our Call Center Manager to come up with the questions you should be asking.
Note: every site is different, and so the questions you need to ask may vary. However, these questions cover the basics of a typical site.
Here’s a list of questions, but we’ll cover them in more detail below:
- Are you using a CMS? If so, how do you update it?
- What are the login credentials to the software?
- Are you using any purchased plugins or themes?
- What types of maintenance does the site require? Who is responsible for the maintenance?
- Do I have an SSL certificate? When does it expire?
- Whose name is the web hosting account under? Will you be able to make changes to the account, call support, or verify ownership after the web designer departs?
- When I need help, who do I contact and how?
- Do we have site backups? How do I access them? How do I restore them?
- How long is your domain registered? Do you have the login information for that? Is the domain registered in my (or my organization’s) name?
Question 1: Are you using a CMS? If so, how do you update it?
If your website is built on a CMS, or Content Management System, it’s imperative that you know which one and how to update it.
While CMS are excellent tools that make website building easy, they’re also frameworks that come with security holes and bugs like any other software. To mitigate this, CMS are often updated to patch these holes and fix problems.
If you don’t update your CMS, you’re putting your website’s security at risk. So be sure to ask your web designer if your website is built on a CMS and, if it is, how to update it. Some tools, like software installed through our PairSIM software manager or WordPress installations on our Managed WordPress hosting, may handle updates automatically. But this isn’t guaranteed with other software, so it’s best to ask.
Question 2: What are the login credentials to the software?
Asking for your login credentials may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s still an important question to note: what are the login credential to the software that helps your website run? You may be surprised that there’s more than one set of credentials that your web designer hands off to you.
If your site is using a CMS, you need to be able to log in. Even if you don’t plan on actively working on your site, you need to be able to access it in times of emergency (like a site defacement or site bug).
Question 3: Are you using purchased plugins or themes?
Know what you’re working with. Purchased themes and plugins can have recurring charges or a limited window of support. Knowing what you’re using, what’s expected on your end, and what you’re entitled to can help you plan for a future without your web designer.
Question 4: What types of maintenance does the site require? Who is responsible for the maintenance?
If your web designer made a habit of doing X, Y, and Z every few months, you want to know about it. Once your web designer is gone, your website is your responsibility. You need to know if someone will be accessing your site to perform maintenance or if you are responsible for completing it.
Question 5: Do I have an SSL certificate? When does it expire?
SSL certificates are essential parts of a website, and there are different types. Figure out what kind your web designer has installed on your website and know when it expires. That will help you mitigate the risk of your SSL expiring and leaving your website insecure.
For example, Pair Networks offers Let’s Encrypt SSL certificates that auto-renew at the end of their allotted time period. So, in that case, you can check the SSL certificate off your to-do list. On the other hand, your SSL certificate might expire every year and need manual renewal. In this case, you’d need to set a reminder for yourself or make sure that the renewal reminder emails will go to you, rather than the past web designer.
Question 6: Whose name is the web hosting account under? Will you be able to make changes to the account, call support, or verify ownership after the web designer departs?
This is an important one. If you are going to be responsible for your website, you should have access to the support and the authority to make changes. Once your web designer leaves, they shouldn’t be the sole controller of your website unless you plan to have an ongoing relationship with them. Make sure you’re listed as the party that has the final say over your hosting account.
Suppose you don’t ensure this before the web designer leaves. In that case, you may run into a site problem later and be unable to get specialized web hosting support because we can’t verify you as the account owner or someone who is allowed to contact support.
Question 7: When I need help, who do I contact and how?
In the same vein as the last question, ask your web designer where you can receive help after they’re gone. If you own a Pair account, you can contact our support 24/7 every day of the year. Even on holidays!
Question 8: Do we have site backups? How do I access them? How do I restore them?
Backups are important for various reasons. From site security to a safety net while redesigning your site, backups are a great way to save yourself from a headache later.
In the case of a site catastrophe (site breakage, hacking, etc.), you need to know where to go so you can roll back your site to a previous version. If your web designer set up something like automatic backups, then you need to know where to access them. If they didn’t, consider setting up some yourself.
We recently wrote about the importance of backups and the backup tools Pair offers. Check out our post here: Why You Should Take Regular Website Backups
Question 9: How long is your domain registered? Do you have the login information for that? Is the domain registered in my (or my organization’s) name?
A site domain is your site’s URL. It’s the address your visitors enter in the browser to find your site. So without your domain, your website will lose its identity.
However, domains don’t last forever. They’re usually registered for a certain period, then expire. Once they expire, someone else can register the domain for use. Once a domain expires, any website using it will no longer work with the domain address. That’s why it’s so important to get the information before your web designer leaves.
If your web designer had control over the domain name, be sure that you know all the details about when it will expire, how to renew, and if it’s in your name. Like a web hosting account, you want to make sure you have administrative rights to renew the domain or contact support.
If your domain expires without you realizing it, you could end up losing your domain for good (or at least for a year or two if someone registers it before you notice).
So be sure you have all the details nailed down before the designer departs.
Becoming the Admin of Your Website
Parting ways with your web designer may be alarming, especially if you’re not familiar with web design or web hosting. However, if you host at Pair Networks, we have an entire Support team of skilled individuals to help you out. We’re available 24/7, every day of the week.
If you’re not already a Pair customer but want a web host that will give you the support you need, contact our Sales team. They’ll be able to set you up with an account type that works best for you and set up a site transfer.