YOUR Website -- YOUR Job to Know the Basics

We’re going through a very exciting but stressful time here at DMD. We found out a few weeks ago that all the websites we host had to be moved to a new server. Getting a new server is exciting but I’ve done this move thing before and so had a good idea of what I was in for. This is not a task I was looking forward to. Since the last move about five years ago, the number of hosting accounts has grown considerably so there are more sites to move which means more potential headaches than the last move. I kept hoping that it “wouldn’t be so bad” and when it boils down to it — it most definitely could have been a lot worse.

This was an unexpected (at this time) short notice operation and the cooperation we received from most clients was amazing (thank you!). At this moment we’re down to having just a handful of sites left to move. The leftovers consist of sites we cannot get the information we need from the site owners to activate their sites on the new server. For the sites I developed, I have everything I need because I provide a maintenance service to my clients. For those that only host here, I don’t have the necessary information and no way to get it but from them.

What You Don’t Know About Your Website CAN Hurt You

I am fully aware that the general public doesn’t know a whole lot about websites to begin with which is why they hire a website designer. It came as no real surprise to me some of the replies I got when I sent out the email to all my clients requesting the necessary information we needed to complete this unsavory job. This is one huge reason I strive to educate my clients and anyone who happens to visit my site. If people only knew what web designers go through sometimes they would agree we are definitely not paid enough money. Here’s a sampling of the responses I received from some of the site owners:

  • What’s a Registrar?
  • Can’t you contact the Registrar for me?
  • What’s a domain name?
  • I don’t know or I can’t remember the password.
  • Ask my web designer, she handles all that for me.
  • I don’t know the link to the administration page for my website.
  • My website was set up by someone else, I can’t help you.
  • No response to follow-up emails requesting corrections to incorrect logins or additional information.

Banging My Head on My Keyboard

Here I am on a deadline with a number of websites I and my staff need to move to a new server and activate on that new server and the website owners don’t know enough about their own website to give me the information I need to do this. Being the responsible company owner that I am, I attempt to help them understand different terminology, send them multiple follow-up emails, and darn near get down on my hands and knees to beg for the information. After nearly two weeks of this with nearly every hair on my head having been yanked out — I still have several of those same websites pending a life in the darkness of an old soon-to-be out of commission server when it’s shut down. I can just imagine the emails I will get at that point.

  • Where’s my website?
  • Why is my website down?
  • How come I can’t see my website?
  • How dare you take my website off the Internet!

Ok, so I’ve now sent you several emails requesting information regarding your website which you’ve failed to give me or have ignored my emails altogether. I can see the writing on the walls — you’re going to blame me anyway. The bright side to this is that I will be able to look myself in the mirror and say without any guilt or shame that “I did everything I could. This is not my fault nor my responsibility.” I’m going to be able to walk away and go about my day with a comfortable smile on my face. I will no longer be banging my head on my keyboard or pulling out the remainder of my hair on my now sparsely populated head. These people can blame me all they want but I will know without a doubt that I did everything I could to help these people and that their site being down is no one’s fault but their own.

Basic Website Stuff You MUST Know

It’s perfectly OK to let your web designer make you a website and to let them handle even the most important parts of it’s development as long as they are trustworthy. What’s not OK is for you to not know the vital basics about your own website. As a website owner it’s your responsibility to:

  • Know what a domain name is.
  • Know what a domain name registrar is.
  • Know who your domain name registrar is and the link to their website.
  • Know the login to your registrar.
  • Know the link to the administration page of your website.
  • Know the login to your website administration area.
  • Know that with all the hacking and security issues regarding websites these days that simple pet name, kid name, birthday, favorite color passwords are a HUGE no-no and that you should not use them. You may as well put a sign on your website that says “Enter Here” with a key hanging in the login page.
  • Keep all important documents that your website designer or web host has sent you and know where to find them when you need them.
  • Know what every single login is related to your website and what each login is for.

It just amazes me sometimes how much people don’t know about something as important as their website is and that they’ve paid good hard-earned money for. Sometimes I just have to shake my head and blow it off or I’ll drive myself crazy. It’s really not that hard to keep a bunch of important papers in one file folder in a safe place where you can find it or keep a folder on your computer containing appropriately named documents on your computer. I suggest doing both. I have a password keeping program that I keep everything in. It has tabs with places for me to store additional information and it’s password protected so all I need is one password to access all the other passwords.

If you change web designers, don’t throw out the previous designer’s documentation. There could be something in it that you or your new designer may need some day.

You don’t have to be a website wizard if you own a website — that’s what your web designer is for — but you do have to have at least some basic knowledge. If you’re going to have a website, it should be important enough to you to know the basics and keep things that are must-have’s for any website owner. Consider it part of your website’s maintenance and a service you can do for yourself that you don’t have to pay your web designer to do for you.

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