Signs A Website is Being Held Hostage and How to Prevent Them

A website can transform your business. Your website is who you are. It is your ultimate tool, your marketplace, your lead generator, your communicator, your body of work. But what happens when you lose it to a bad web developer?

Let’s say you’re a website owner. You’re all pumped up to get your content published but you don’t know how. You reach out to your web developer to load and publish it for you, but they seem annoyed by your request. They ignore you, or worse, they ask for additional costs. This could be a sign they’re holding your website hostage.

Unfortunately, this happens all the time. Even worse, you don’t have a tiny clue if your website is safe from its developers right now! But there are ways to determine if your website is in a hostage crisis. Here are the warning signs:

  • The developer is hiding important information from you during the building process or even after the website is built, such as full admin access.
  • The developer has taken full control of your website without you even noticing.
  • Your website is accessible to you only if the developer’s demands are met, such as an unreasonable amount of additional fees.
  • The developer is not giving you ownership despite you being the owner of the brand.

So, how can you protect your website from a hostage situation?

It is tricky to build your own website. If you’re not as technologically skilled as a web developer, you will need all the help you can get. But before you hire any developer or designer, here are a list of steps to take to minimise the chances of a website hostage crisis:

1) Determine who owns the your domain and web hosting.

You don’t necessarily have the own the actual servers your website is hosted on, there are many companies that offer just that – web hosting. However, to ensure you have full access to all your web content regardless of who builds it, you should be the one to register the hosting account so if things ever go wrong, you can recover access by proving your identity with the hosting company.

If you already have a website you want to rebuild, but you’re unsure who it’s hosted or registered with, you can find out by searching here. However, this information is not fully accessible on countries with GDPR laws.

2) Register your hosting account

You need to register and know how to set up your own web hosting account, or you should immediately be given access before building your website. You need to have full control of this, so you won’t have a hard time making updates to your website later.

3) Register your domain name

This is your website’s URL and is a key element to your website, you wouldn’t want to use a random nonsense address when you’re telling people to check out your business website! Don’t rely on a developer or a designer to do this for you. If they buy a domain on your behalf, it’s their domain, not yours. There is a possibility to get it back, but most of the time it costs more than it should.

4) Ask for a contract

You need to consider only working with professionals that will present a contract. You will need to read through it carefully to make sure your website is owned by your business, not by the developer or designer.

5) Ask for the log in details

Before launching your website, make sure you pay attention to the details. You will need to ask for a handful of usernames, passwords and licenses so you can access the backend before you proceed. For your files, make sure you are provided with the FTP server name and path as well.

6) Analytics

Never forget the analytics! Get it installed under your business’ Google Analytics account to gain full access of your data. This is important for your SEO efforts.

7) Back everything up

Make sure your developer creates a backup of your website. If held hostage, they can always delete all your website’s data. You can prevent this from happening by backing everything up! When all else fails, your backup won’t. It will save your website.

Have you encountered any of these signs from your web manager? Are you new to building a website for your business and can’t tell enough if your website is safe from all this? Tell us your situation! Or click here to learn how you can rescue your website from a hostage crisis.

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