It’s highly unlikely your WordPress web developer will actually get hit by a bus if only because they rarely, if ever, leave their desk!
But seriously, what would happen to your WordPress website if the geek who currently looks after it for you didn’t answer their phone? This really does happen to business owners who hadn’t given their website a second thought for ages, and it can be a bit of an issue.
If you think that you have urgent stuff on your plate right now and as everything with your website is just fine, you can afford to put this issue to the back of the pile, then you may be putting off spending 30 minutes today to get some key bits of information in place which could save you from spending ages trying to sort out a tangled web in the future.
You need to have access to 3 things to have control over your website…
The Domain Name
You need to know these things –
- That you own it
- Where it is registered and how to log in to the registrar account for your domain
Don’t just assume you own it! Sometimes website developers buy domain names in their name instead of the clients. Go to www.whois.com and type in the name of your domain into the search box. Whois will tell you who owns the domain, who is the Registrar and when it expires.
Most importantly, get the username and login details for the Registrar, and do this for each domain name you believe you own.
The Website Build
If you use a content management system (CMS) for your site, such as WordPress, you must have full ADMIN access to the back end of the website. Just because you can log in and publish posts and pages, does not mean you have full Admin access. There are different levels of access, at least 4, and it may look like you can get to all the techie stuff, but unless you have the Admin access, you can’t. Without Admin access, you can’t change the theme, plugins, or any of the other gizmos that make your site work but need updating to keep it all running smoothly.
The way to check it is to go to the ‘Users’ tab when you log in and see what role has been assigned to you.
As it happens, there is a way around this issue if you can log into your cPanel it is possible to change the Admin user login details, but that process is a little complicated for this blog post.
You should also check where any backups or clones are stored.
If your website isn’t WordPress, (as if!) then you will need the files and FTP details, and I’m afraid we aren’t going to explain this here, but ask your web manager now.
Who Is Hosting Your WordPress Website?
You must be able to log into your hosting service, often through what is called a cPanel, and also be able to raise a ticket or get other support from them. There could also be two elements to your hosting, one for your website and one for emails.
People have come to us after their web developer has disappeared. Sometimes, the first indication the developer has gone off the grid is the website goes down because the hosting provider hasn’t been paid and so has taken down the site. But unless you have all of the login details, the hosting service won’t talk to you even if the domain name is the same name as your business. This often surprises people, but it makes sense concerning Data Protection and Security.
Think of your hosting provider as your bank, your website as your bank account and you have asked your accountant who has all the bank account details, the web developer in our little story, to deal with the bank account on your behalf. If the accountant ran off the bank wouldn’t just let you into the bank account to play around with all the cash. Even if the bank account had the same name as your business, if all you had was just the name of the bank, there would still be loads of hoops to jump through before they would let you in.
It’s the same situation with your hosting provider.
Sometimes a developer or manager maintains their own servers to host their clients’ websites instead of using an external hosting provider such as WP Engine or Godaddy.
But what happens if your web manager goes out of business? How many servers do they have? If they only have the one which hosts your website and it goes down then what is the backup plan? If your website is hosted by an individual rather than a larger hosting provider, you need to ask these questions and also what will happen if they don’t pick up the phone or answer their emails.
So, if your web manager is handling all of this for you, give them a call and ask for all of the above to be sent through to you. It’s a critical part of the information for your business continuity so make sure you have it on hand.