5 Things You Need to Know if Your Web Developer Disappears

A common problem I encounter is a prospective client in distress because their web developer disappears or is otherwise unavailable or unresponsive. They need some work done to their website or are having a problem, so they turn to another developer to get something accomplished. Without these five pieces of information, helping you is almost impossible, and these are the things you’ll need to provide to get that help.

1 – Know the name of your registrar, complete with login credentials, (username and password). Your registrar is the company that keeps the official record of your domain information. They provide all of the contact information including the name and address of the registrant, (owner of the domain). You can usually find all of that information by going to http://whois.domaintools.com and typing in your domain name.

Make sure all of the information is accurate, particularly the email address of the registrant. That’s usually the only way you will be contacted by the registrar. If your domain is ever transferred, or an attempt is made to transfer it, this is the email that a notice will be sent to for you to approve the transfer. It’s important that this email is accurate and one that you regularly check to prevent your domain from being hijacked.

Other useful pieces information found on your record are:

  •  the technical and administrative contacts
  •  the creation date of the domain
  •  the nameservers your domain points to
  •  the  expiration date of the domain, (very important)

The expiration is the most common thing that is forgotten. The domain expires on a certain date and is not set to renew automatically and you lose your domain because the email address that is on record is wrong. Domains are lost every day due to this and there is little chance of getting it back if that happens.

2 – Know the name of your hosting company, complete with login credentials, (username and password). Your hosting company is the company that owns the servers that your website is physically hosted on. You typically pay a monthly or annual fee for them to host your website. In other words, you’re renting the space on their server where the programming code for your website is kept and that code is executed. Check the information that is on record to make sure it’s accurate, along with the date that your hosting is set to expire.

3 – Know the URL of your website administrative panel, complete with login credentials, (username and password). This is going to look something like http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin or http://yourdomainname.com/wp-login.php. With this information, you or your developer can get into your physical website to add content or make changes.

4 – Know the login credentials, (username and password), of your Google Analytics account. Every website should have a Google tracking code along with the appropriate javascript, (or snippet), that should be present on every page of your site. It’s how Google tracks all of the information about your website and provides all of the statistics to you about how your site is performing. This is something you should be looking at regularly to see how your site is performing. It’s one of the most interesting things that you can look at when tracking site performance and conversion. There is a wealth of information available with this tool. Here is where you can login – http://www.google.com/analytics

5 – Make sure the credit card information on file with your registrar, your hosting company and Google, (if you use paid advertising services), is accurate and up-to-date including the expiration date of the credit card.  Most companies will let you know that your credit card is about to expire, but not all. A real scenario that I run across is that a clients’ website completely disappears. Upon investigation, it turns out that the credit card at the hosting company has expired. They sent several emails to the email address on file, which was either wrong, or not monitored, and they deleted the account along with the entire website.

If some of this sounds technical, that’s because it is. But no worries, just contact your web developer and ask them for these details. They should be able provide them to you. Once you get the info, be sure and check that it’s accurate by logging into all of the places mentioned. You don’t need to do anything except login, just to make sure the information is correct and up to date. Keep it in a safe place and update it regularly. If your web developer disappears, this is the information you’ll be asked for so that you can get help.

One final thought, in situations where we have needed to assist someone, we ask for this information. It’s rare that we have a client that can provide all of it. You’ll be way ahead of the game if you have a website problem and you can provide these five things to the company that you hire to help you.

Dave is a developer for Yellow Frog Media where he works on websites for small to medium sized businesses. In the past he has served as a blogger, teacher, software developer and project manager. He resides in Arlington, Texas with his wife Charlotte and their four-legged child. (A Jack Russell Terrier mix named Eddie).

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