Website Horrors…How To Avoid the Pitfalls
So your hosting service sent you an email and you missed it and you find out the following month your site is no longer online! You can’t get in touch with your web person, the hosting service tells you they can only talk with the person on the account which is your web person and you realize you don’t have the keys to your own kingdom.
YOU CAN FEEL THE HAIRS TINGLING ON THE BACK OF YOUR NECK NOW CAN’T YOU?!?
As a veteran web developer, I have come across so many ways in which business owners are caught off guard simply because they were not educated on how to protect and safeguard their most precious business commodity…their website. I always said if I had a dollar for every sorror story I’ve heard I wouldn’t have to do websites…I could retire. As you read along I am sure you have either felt these yourself or know someone in your sphere who has had to deal with this horrible dilemma.
Here are some chilling tales of website horrors and how you can prevent this from happening to you.
9 Website Horror Stories
- The House Built on Rented GroundThis is the tale of the large website built on a hosting platform that the client thought was a good choice years ago. It had an easy-to-use content management system, and the website was easy to maintain. Their domain name pointed to the home page, but the URLs included the hosting platform’s domain name.Initially, the site was small, but as the website grew, the client wanted to move to a self hosted platform that offered more customization. The business had outgrown its current home on the Internet.
Little did they know that when they decided to move, they couldn’t take their website with them. There was no option to export the website. To exasperate the situation, the hosting support could only be contacted by a ticket system that promised to reply within 24 hours.Eventually, the only option was to painstakingly copy the text of each and every page and download the images manually. Then, the text and images had to be added to the new website manually. When the new website was ready to launch, the hosting company would not allow 301 redirects to tell the search engines that the old pages had moved.
How this horror story could have been prevented: Even if you are just starting out, read the fine print. Choose a web hosting company that you can self host your website, make backups, and one that offers 24×7 technical support. For the same amount of money for the hosted services, you can have a self hosted website.
- Your Domain Name in Someone Else’s NameThe sad story of finding out your domain name is in someone else’s name has been the horror of many. There have been a number of times that new clients have contacted us for help, only to discover their domain name is in the old designer’s name.In most situations, a quick email or phone call to the old developer helped to resolve the situation. On one occasion, the designer could not be reached or is unwilling to be cooperative. The road to get the domain name in the client’s name is a long and arduous one and one to be avoided at all costs.
How to avoid a horror story like this: Make certain that your domain name is in your name and that you have the login credentials – user name and password to the account. If anything is updated by your web person make sure you have the most current up-to-date information.
- Your Web Hosting Account is Not in Your NameImagine trying to contact your web hosting company for support, only to learn that the account is not in your name. There have been clients who were not aware that they did not have ownership of the web hosting account. Even though they had been paying for the service, they could not validate ownership.
How to avoid this horror story: Be sure that your web hosting account is in your name and that you have the user name and password to log into the account.
- Not Having the Keys to the KingdomI have been contacted by more than one website owner that had a WordPress website, but did not have the administrative login credentials or FTP (File Transfer Protocol – the protocol for transferring files) user name and password. Without these important credentials, the website could not be managed. Fortunately, there are some workarounds but they can be costly and time consuming.
How to keep this from happening to you: Make it a point of having the login user name and passwords for both your Content Management System and FTP in your own records.
- Not Having a Website BackupCan’t stress this one enough to all my clients. Picture your web hosting company shutting down your website over a misunderstanding, but you didn’t realize there was a misunderstanding until a few days later, you discover your site is down. Then, when you contact the host, you discover that you just missed the cutoff for backups that they keep archived.Now they want to charge you an arm and a leg to reinstate your site. What recourse do you have but to invest and do it.
How to avoid a similar fate: Make regular backups of your website files and database if appropriate and know where those backups are.
- Discovering Your Website Has Been HackedWebsite hacking is on the rise. Imagine you get a call from a client saying that they clicked on your website and were taken to a pornographic website instead. Not only are you embarassed but that can cost you your reputation, clients and a whole lot more. One nightmare that many a website owner has is discovering their website has been compromised and they don;t know how to get it fixed.
How this could have been avoided: The problem with most websites is that upgrades had not been made in a timely manner making the site vulnerable to attack. This left the site wide open to hackers. To keep something like this happening to you, make sure to make updates to programming when they become available and that you have a good security plugin or service in place.
- Realizing That Your Website is Not So Mobile FriendlyHaving a mobile-friendly website is not a luxury anymore. Google rolled out a significant mobile ranking algorithm in April 2015. Recently,John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, stated that over half of Google’s searches are now coming from mobile.There are still a number of website owners that have been putting off having their websites redesigned into a mobile-friendly website. The sad truth is that they are losing a lot of potential clients.
How to fix the problem: If you have been vacillating over whether or not to make the switch to a mobile friendly website, now is the time. It may not be as expensive as you think so it is best to get a quote and make the move to mobile.
- Not Having a Web Design Agreement
This unfortunate story involves a disappointed website owner that did not have his website expectations met. He had assumed that his developer was going to do a great deal more than the final product.
How the misunderstanding should have been prevented: A written web design agreement that spelled out exactly what the client expected and what the developer agreed to do would have avoided misunderstandings.
- Finding Out Your Website Can’t Be FoundVisualize sitting in front of your computer. You decide to search for your top keywords, and your website doesn’t show up on the first, second, or third pages. In fact, even Googling your company name does not bring up your website in the search engine results.This dismal tale is exactly what happened to a prospective client. He contacted us for SEO support and explained the situation. This one was an easy problem to spot as the robots.txt on her website was blocking search engines.
How to be sure your website is SEO friendly: If you are unable to or do not know how to implement organic search engine optimization, contact a trusted and experienced professional.
Website horror stories like these are enough to keep any website owner awake at night. The great part is that we can learn from these unfortunate situations. From choosing the right hosting platform from the start and having the right keys to the kingdom to making backups and getting expectations in writing, we can steer clear of potential problems.