Okay, real talk today.
We don't want our clients to get burned.
We hate seeing them trapped in toxic relationships with past web agencies. It's painful.
When you're trying to cut ties with an old web firm, things can get ugly. Because people are assholes.
The simple fact is that when you leave a relationship with a web design company, they don't have any incentive to make it easy for you.
It would be great if everyone was a good human being who wanted to empower your business to succeed. It doesn't seem like too much to ask. Really.
But, unfortunately, WAY too many companies operate with the mindset that holding clients hostage when they want to cut ties is an acceptable business practice.
What the hell. No. NO!
It doesn't have to be this way. But even an agency who you think are extremely wonderful people who would never do that to me, ever, can end up being total dicks.
So we want to lay down three 🚩 MAJOR red flags 🚩 for you today.
These are three things you absolutely need to retain ownership and control over when you work with ANY web team. Yes, even us.
1. Your domain name
Your domain name is simply the address (URL) your website will be at. A domain name can end in .com, .co, .net, or even more unexpected endings like .guru or .ninja.
When you set out to create a website, one of the first things you need to do is purchase a domain name from a domain name registrar, like Google Domains.
And by “you,” I really do mean YOU – NOT your web company on your behalf.
Why is it important to purchase your domain yourself?
Because blocking you from accessing your domain – basically grabbing you by the balls and twisting like a wrung washrag, what the f***ck – is one of the easiest things for a web company to do to sabotage your business if your project goes sour partway through, you decide to leave, or you just want to find another company to work with.
(Do we sound bitter? It's because we're dealing with another company doing this EXACT THING for one of our clients right now. And we've dealt with this way too many times in the past.)
It should be YOU who purchases your domain name, not your web company.
Here's what to do:
1. Go to Google Domains. (Or GoDaddy, if you like sexist advertising.)
2. Find the domain you want.
3. Purchase that domain.
4. Make sure to keep your login info in a safe place so you can access it when needed!
Is it a good idea to consult your web team before purchasing your domain? Yes, absolutely.
We have lots of experience helping businesses finding a domain that will fit their needs for now and for the future.
But is it a good idea to say,
“Yes, go ahead, you just buy my domain for me and handle all that”...?
No no no no no no NO! DON'T DO IT.
2. Your web hosting credentials
Your web hosting credentials allow you to log in to your web host and make changes. Access to your web host is essential in order to control your website in basic ways.
Note: If you create your site from scratch on Squarespace, Squarespace will be your web host.
But if your website already exists and you're transferring to a new Squarespace site, you need access to your web host.
Hosting credentials should be under YOUR control. Not that of your web company.
Why? TWO MAJOR REASONS:
- Again, it is WAY too easy for a web-company-gone-rogue to f*ck you over if you'd ever like to leave. Ever. EVER! Because if you don't have access to your web host, you can't make essential changes if you ever need to. Like if your web company turns out to be total assholes.
- Controlling your web host keeps your costs transparent. One big way web companies manage to eke money out of you each month is by marking up hosting fees. A lot. We've heard of clients forced to pay $100/month for web hosting that really costs $6/month. Come on! If you're marking a good up that much you need to be transparent about it.
But aren't URLs always purchased through web hosts? you ask.
Not necessarily. Domains can be purchased separately from a hosting plan.
That means your web company might have bought your URL (that's what your domain name is) through your web host – in which case, you'll just need to get one set of credentials to access both. But they could be separate.
Actually, of course your piece of shit old web company purchased them separately. Probably both on separate company accounts that you can't access. Just to double-insure you'll be screwed over if you ever want to go out on your own.
Again, do we sound bitter? Well, we are. WHO wants to treat their clients like this? Oh wait! PLENTY OF PIECES OF SHIT WEB COMPANIES DO.
3. All Google-connected accounts
Yes, ALL of your Google Apps accounts. All of them.
If you use Google Analytics, AdWords, Search Console, or Google My Business, your business – not your web company! – ought to be squarely in control of each.
It's likely that your web company is using Google Analytics on your behalf. Or your marketing company using Google AdWords to create pay-per-click ads on your behalf.
In either case, YOU should have ownership of those accounts and your web company should be just admins or managers.
We always recommend setting up ALL Google Apps accounts under a business admin Google account connected ONLY to the business – not to individuals – and used only for admin purposes. We usually recommend this is something like email@example.com.
Here's what our recommendation is:
- Create all Google Apps accounts on your business admin Google account, then make your web company managers.
- Alternatively, you can give your web or marketing compay the admin login to let them set up these accounts on your behalf, then make themselves managers. This can be way easier if you are the kind of person who gets frustrated trying to deal with nitty gritty details!
Making sure your Google Analytics, AdWords, and other accounts are under YOUR ownership and control from the get-go ensures that you'll be able to take all data and history with you if ever you branch away from your current company.
And that's a good move. Because people are assholes.
You'd think that when you work with a company you trust, they'd be DOING THEIR PART by not f*cking you over from the get-go.
Unfortunately, that's not been the experience of many of our clients, or many people all around the globe.
Clients should be able to trust that the company to which they're paying thousands of dollars is using best practices – after all, you're an expert in YOUR field and should be able to trust the people you hire to take care of you appropriately. But you can't trust them blindly. And we REALLY feel for you. That SUCKS.
I KNOW it can be frustrating to try and sift through the necessary web mumbo-jumbo when you're busy running your business. It's much easier to say "ehh, let the web company handle that."
But in the long run? You'll be in for a nasty spat if you ever try to move away.
Taking the time to get all your accounts in order from day one takes more effort. And probably frustration. But the extra energy will be WELL worth it down the road. I guarantee you. 😬
Got any web company horror stories? You KNOW we'd love to hear them! Share all your juicy details in the comments!
OR, are you a web company that just LOVES dicking your customers over and making other agencies' lives a living hell? LET US KNOW the inner workings of your twisted minds down in the comments below.
Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courses, we're focused on your business success every step of the way.