Have you ever worried about what to do if your website goes down and wondered how it could affect your business? Here are some handy tips on how to be prepared for such a situation and how you can overcome some issues should it ever happen to you.
Who is responsible for what?
It is common practice for web design companies to sub-contract work to other organisations. This is done primarily to keep costs down and to enable the delivery of a wider range of services without incurring the associated overheads.
As the customer you need to know who is responsible for which part of your website project.
- Who holds the domain name? It should be you or your company.
- Where is your website hosted? A UK company website should be hosted in the UK.
- Who owns the IP (Intellectual Property) rights to your website? It should be you.
- Who owns the source code* to your website? It should be you in most cases.
- Are images used on your website copyright protected? If so has the royalty fee been paid?
* source code is the software code which is sent over the internet to display your website on your customers viewing device – PC, Laptop, smartphone etc.
Remember, it is your website and you are ultimately responsible for it.
A common website design scenario is that a design company outsources the programming work to a technical agency. In this case, the biggest risk is that the technical company goes out of business, leaving the design company and you in the lurch. You might lose access to source code, access to the hosting server or any on-going support.
In most cases if you have taken some basic precautions you can simply contract another company to take over the support of your website.
In the worst case you may lose your website and build it again from scratch – a potentially expensive process!
To mitigate this risk; insist on knowing who does what and insist on being able to contact the sub-contractor directly. You need to know who they are, how the relationship works, who owns what and how you can be supported if one of them goes out of business.
Hosting Your Domain Name
From a customer’s point of view it is very convenient to have website developer take care your domain names, website development and hosting needs. You will then be dealing with one company and you will need to worry too much about talking to other providers or dealing with subjects beyond your technical knowledge.
However, this is not may not be the best way to do things and you should:
- Check who is the ‘Registrant’ of your website domain name – for www.yourwebsite.co.uk website you can contact www.nominet.org.uk and type in your domain name into “whois”; you will see a report of who is the registered owner of the site. You should be the “Registrant” for your websites domain name.
- Be aware that your email addresses are normally also hosted within the same domain – if one goes, they all go.
Managing You Website Hosting
If you feel sufficiently confident about the technical aspects of managing your websites hosting the benefits are:
- You have 1st line control over the security of your website.
- You do not have to be concerned that your web developer has a good relationship with a third party.
- Having direct access to the secure backup of your website will enable you to restore a broken website much faster.
The majority of website development companies don’t host websites in-house; instead they concentrate on designing and building websites and leave the hosting of websites to the specialists. This practice could represent a risk; if the developer goes out of business it is likely that the hosting company will simply switch off your hosting server because your website developer has stopped paying them.
Ensure you have Regular Backups
In an ideal world your web developer would provide you with:
- A copy of the source code for the site.
- Copies of all files resident on the server.
- A regular back-up copy of any databases used by your website.
- Instructions on how to migrating your website to another hosting platform.
If you are unsure about any of these issue talk to you website developer. Insist on satisfactory, plain English, answers.
Read the contract small print. For example, do you have a license to use a Content Management System, rather than ownership of the code?
Insist that an ESCROW agreement is put in place with your web developers. This involves their placing the source code for your website in a secure environment with an ESCROW service, Should your website developer go out of business; then the code would be released to you so that you can pass it to an alternative website developer to allow them to continue supporting your website.
Have a Disaster Recovery Plan in Place
Have a Disaster Recovery Plan in place that can be swung into action if need be. It should cover the areas above and clearly set out a procedure for the recovery of your website.
Can We Help You?
We have experience of advising businesses who have suffered from these problems. We understand how serious these types of problems can be, and we know how to sort them out.
If you have any concerns about your present supplier or would like some plain advice contact us, we are happy to be of assistance.