For today’s online business, having access to manage your website is a must. The days of hands-off websites are behind us, so it’s important to choose a web development firm that hands your team the keys after the development work is done.
In the past, it made more sense to have the pros handle things. But today’s websites have WordPress, a simple content management system (CMS) that anyone can use. And you should be using it. Managing your site today is cheaper and more efficient. Here’s how.
The Legacy of Hands-Off Web Design
Well into the 2000s, many websites were still built without a CMS. So a website ended up being some linked-together static HTML web pages. There was no simple administrative interface to speak of. To make a change — such as switching out an employee photo or editing a copywriting spelling mistake — you had to know how to code. So it made sense to have a pro manage your site.
Web development technical ability is still over the heads of many small business teams, but that’s not a problem today. You no longer need to be a tech whiz to manage all aspects of your website. The WordPress CMS is no harder to learn than basic Microsoft Excel or QuickBooks.
The question then becomes: So you could manage your site, but wouldn’t it be easier to pay someone to do that?
The Problem with Hands-Off Website Solutions
Hired help is great. All business owners know this. Outsourcing allows you to spend more time on core elements of your business, the key skill areas where you shine. No one becomes a CPA or a physical therapist because they want to spend time fiddling with their company website.
But consider this: most CEOs have an administrative assistant, but they still know how to send an email or draft a letter themselves if and when they need to.
Managing your website is not that different. You may have a go-to developer, agency, or inhouse marketing team that can handle complicated or regular work on your site. But it’s still nice to be able to make small or time-sensitive changes quickly and easily.
With a CMS like WordPress, you don’t need to pay a professional every time you want to publish a blog post, add or remove a product from your catalog, update the CEO’s bio, or add a staff photo of the new accounting intern.
It may sound trivial, but having to go through a developer for each of these website tweaks is cumbersome and surprisingly costly. Having the control to make these site changes is a powerful advantage that makes for a leaner organization, whether it’s you, a team member, or a contractor who didn’t work on building your site that’s doing the updates.
The Key Website Elements You Need Own
Beyond having the login to your WordPress CMS, there are some website pieces that businesses should ultimately be in control of. Yet many businesses aren’t. There’s a reason a popular Google search on this topic is “website held hostage.” Thankfully, there’s no need to call in the special forces to free your site if you work with a developer who gives you control of these elements at the end of the job:
Domain Name – The domain name is the name of your website. Example: This site’s domain is kaleidico.com. A domain name is purchased from an internet domain registrar or a web hosting firm during the setup of a new website. There’s nothing wrong with letting your web developer handle the setup of your site, as long as the contract specifies a transfer of ownership to you at the end of the project.
Code and Design – Most code used to build today’s websites, including WordPress’ CMS and numerous third-party widgets and plugins, are free and open-source code. However, some specialized custom website elements, and many custom design elements, like logos or layouts, can be considered the intellectual property of their creator. Your developer contract should specify that ownership of any such elements transfers to your business, after your check clears, that is.
Site Analytics – Another website element where ownership and access get overlooked is your site’s analytics. Your Google Analytics data is a crucial piece of your website that tells you everything about how your site is being used by users, where your site is performing well, and where it could stand to improve. Make sure that Google Analytics is installed on a proprietary account that your business controls.
Site Backups – Similarly, site backups can make or break if there is a problem with your site. Many backup systems store backups on a separate server or offline. You want to make sure you have access to your website backups in the unlikely event you need them, as in the case of a server failure, malware, or hacking attack.
Pro Design and Direct Access: The Best of Both Worlds
While it’s the best case for businesses today to have access to manage their website, don’t get trapped into the false choice of all or nothing. You don’t have to do everything yourself to end up with a site you own at the end of a web development project.
A quality agency or development house will be happy to do all the work of setting up a complete website solution for you and then transferring access permanently to you and your team when the project is completed.
With the best firms, you’ll often also get onboarding assistance, such as tutorials or manuals for how to manage the basics of your new site. Plus, most web development firms would be happy to remain on call to handle routine maintenance, such as software updates, marketing assistance, web hosting, or website security.
Just as most CEOs wouldn’t want to lose their assistants, many businesses prefer to work with a digital marketing firm or web development agency for their ongoing needs. Nevertheless, today’s businesses should ensure they have easy access to their website. That way, you can handle the little things on your own, as you are comfortable, and call in the big guns when needed.
See how Kaleidico can help you build the website you want, at the price you want. Give us a call at 313-338-9515 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how our full-service digital agency can help with all your website needs.