At any given time here in the Stable, we have multiple website design projects going. They can go very smoothly or a little rough, depending on how well you’ve prepared yourself for a web presence – yes, that’s right, I said “prepared YOURSELF.” It might seem like some of these tasks are way outside of your job description, but it’s important that you make the time to understand what’s needed and why you need to be behind the reins for some of it. Your website is one of your most important tools. Maintaining strict control over its credentials and its functionality is paramount to a pleasant web development experience now and in the future. And you don’t need to be an IT guru to do so these days.
Cover your assets.
While some might think they’re doing you a favor by buying your hosting package and purchasing your domain name, those simple acts can turn into heartache down the road.
That’s why we ask each of our clients to purchase their own URLs and hosting packages (with our recommendations, of course). That way, clients always have access to the user names and passwords that will be needed to update their site later on. I can’t tell you how many times clients have no idea where this information exists, and trying to track it down from a web designer who might no longer be in the market or unwilling to play nice is really tricky. Likewise, don’t ever let a developer become the Registrar Holder of your domain. That’s their leverage to hold you hostage should you ever want to leave.
Open Source vs. Proprietary sites.
We don’t encounter this much anymore, but it can still rear its ugly head. Back before the advent of platforms like WordPress, Drupal and Joomla, content management was only available to clients via larger site infrastructures. Web firms designed proprietary systems and sold clients the use of that architecture. But here’s the catch—the clients didn’t own their own sites, thus the term proprietary. For clients, this was usually a way to harness a bigger web capability at a lower price. The only problem? If you want to leave that proprietary provider, kiss your website and all its assets goodbye. Many of my clients over the years never knew the site they paid thousands for didn’t belong to them at all. Often, the URL didn’t either. Caveat emptor.
Nearly 80% of all Google searches are now done on smart phones and tablets. What’s more, Google announced in July of 2014 that they would stop including sites in searches that weren’t mobile optimized. Responsive design allows your site to conform (or respond) to the environment it’s being viewed on, whether it’s a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
Share your screen.
Nearly all of the sites we do now are on the WordPress platform. Not WordPress.com, which is a free “parking” platform for sites and blogs, but in the 4.1 WordPress.org environment. Hosting packages are so affordable today, there’s really no reason to use WordPress.com, unless you don’t have access to a site to attach the blog and need an independent, informational blog. Plus, there is a vast library of really nice WordPress themes that we can purchase and customize to fit your brand and your content, saving clients thousands in the process. Once complete, we train you via shared screen training with our Web team, and give you full access to the content on your site. You can update as often as you’d like, and you can work with whoever you want to in the future.
The Web IT Planner.
I created this several years ago to help clients through the process of getting their site development off the ground more smoothly. Next time you’re ready to build or rebuild your site, here’s the information you’ll need to provide to your developers to determine the following technology requirements needed:
1. Do you have a domain name? (If so, please provide the user name and password).
2. Who is your domain registrar? (If different from your host, we need your username and password).
3. Do you need hosting or have you already bought a hosting package? (If so, please provide the account user name and password).
4. If not, can you stay with the current host? (this requires us to verify that your current host can accommodate your new site, in particular WordPress sites, and we also need the hosting account user name and password for site access).
5. Do you want to keep current email vendor? (most likely your old host. If so, we’ll need the new host to have a static IP, so we can point A-records to the site, preserving email data).
6. If you want or need to move their email to a new host how many email addresses are needed? (Please provide suggested email address, accounts user names and passwords).
7. Is there any other technology we need to integrate? (For example, MLS listings, an advanced search feature, video integration, etc?)
8. What are your social media links? (Please provide usernames and passwords).
9. Do you want us to link a submit form to an email marketing platform, like Constant Contact, Mail Chimp or Robly? (If so, please provide username and password).
Just do it.
If you think it’s too confusing to purchase a URL or buy a hosting package, think again. Trying to track down that information, or pry it away from someone else, later on can stop your new site dead in its tracks before it ever has a chance to hit the World Wide Web.