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5 Website Assets Your Developer Should Not Control

by: Kathy DalPra

website developer controlI get it. When it comes to the technical side of your website, you'd rather just close your eyes, hand it all over to a capable developer and be done with all that nonsense. Admittedly, even I get drained from the techie side too! But no matter how turned off you may be by coding, widgets and hosting jargon, there is never, ever a good time to give up control of your website.

All too many times, bridal businesses have come to me with nightmare stories of getting locked out of their website, not able to update their photos, change their copy or even able to move their site to a new host.

Sound familiar? If you've ever had your hands tied when it comes to your website, heed this warning of 5 critical assets of which you need to take back control:

1. Domain Name

Your domain name is the web address of your site, such as http://brideappeal.com or www.brideappeal.com. Not only is this the "location" of where visitors can find your virtual storefront, it is also the hub of all your SEO value. If you lose your domain, you lose your SEO power and have to start all over.

I never, ever recommend letting your website developer choose, buy or set up your domain name because if your relationship goes sour, they can absolutely hold your entire online presence hostage by locking you out of accessing your domain and forcing you to start from scratch. Acquiring a domain name is something you should do yourself and it's not nearly as difficult as you might think. Just make sure that you buy it from an official domain registrar company (ex. Go Daddy) and not through a website builder software company. Buy it outright and make sure that you can transfer it to a different registrar at any time in the future.

2. Website Host

A website host is a company that stores the data of your website, such as coding, images, databases etc. Without access to these files, you'll lose control of your website long term. If someone else has access, but you do not, they can easily delete your entire website.

Temporarily, your website developer will need access to your host to develop your website. They may also need it when providing ongoing support for you. However, if they have the same level access as you, you do run the risk of getting locked out of your own account.

Find out if your host company offers various access levels for team members. You will be the account holder and decision maker. Your developer will be a technical contact with access rights, but no account control. If this feature isn't available, just make sure you're changing passwords after your developer is done with each project. This way, you're the only one with uninterrupted account access.

3. Website Backups

It's ok if you're not comfortable backing up your own website and you want to pay your developer to do this for you. Just make sure they are giving you the full backup file after each backup so you have a current copy at all times. You can use a program like Dropbox to have them easily transfer the files.

4. CMS (Content Management System)

A content management system, like Wordpress, is necessary if you want to be able to update your own website without using code. Both you and your developer will need to be able to log into your CMS and access it. However, you should be the primary administrative person with full control over your CMS account and, ideally, you should be in control of the permission rights each user has.You need your own login credentials that you don't share with anyone so that you always have access to your administrative console and can update your website any time you like.

5. Customer Purchasing Data

There is almost never a good reason for your website developer to have access to private customer information, including credit card details and purchase history. For your own legal protection, customer transaction data should be kept secure in the most protected way and should always be collected over secure connections that do not leave their data vulnerable.

While your developer can assist you in setting up a secure eCommerce solution, there is rarely a good reason for them to be able to view individual customer purchasing information. Get educated on PCI compliance and consult with your attorney on how to safeguard your customer transaction information so that it cannot be accessed by third parties, including contractors.