We get this question a lot from frantic clients who feel lost and frustrated with their website. Everything is going to be okay. There is no need to slowly push your computer off your desk and walk away forever. We’ve got a process that can help you get on track.
To start, there are dozens of reasons why you may find yourself unable to make essential updates to your website. Here are a few common ones we’ve experienced:
- Perhaps you’ve lost contact with your web developer
- taken over as admin in a company that doesn’t know who built their website
- facing trouble making updates with an out-of-date website
- have custom coded website that no one knows how to make changes to
- don’t even know where to begin
Losing touch with your website is an overwhelming experience. A good website is your doorway to engaging with your audience. Without the ability to update hours of operation, add blogs, add in notices (COVID), or changes in your staff, your website begins to look dated and feels out of touch.
Here’s a quick walk-through to help get you back on track to managing your website if you’re feeling stuck.
Gather as much information about your website as possible
No matter what your role in the company, you first want to gather as much information as possible about your website, who has worked on it, and where it is managed. This includes:
- Point of Contacts throughout the years – (admins, CEOs, and other individuals who may have had access to the site over the years)
- Hosting – (who hosts your website files)
- Domain Registration – (where is your domain name or URL renewed each year)
- Web Designer – (who built your website originally)
- Content Management System – (what is your website currently built in)
Point of Contact
To start, gain access to any points of contact who may have had access to the website over the years. Some may have login access that you can retrieve so you can log into your website right off the bat. Likewise, key players on your team may have email records of billing for hosting or domain services. Previous CEOs or admins may have been in contact with your previous web developer through email correspondence. Reach out to anyone you can that may have information that can be helpful in gaining access to your website.
Your host is where all the information that makes up your website is housed. If you don’t know where to start to find this information, here are a few tips for sleuthing it out.
- Check your billing information – hosting typically costs between $100-200 per year
- Look for the company name – common website hosting companies include Godaddy, HostGator, BlueHost, WP Engine, and Inmotion. Search the emails of your primary points of contact including admins and CEOs to see if there are any emails from these companies about website management.
- Use a tool such as Hosting Checker to see if your hosting information is listed publicly
Once you have found your host, reach out to them to gain access to your account. They may make you go through a verification process to ensure you have a right to access the account. They may be able to provide you with login access to your website. Gaining access to your host is essential for ongoing management of your website.
Your domain is typically registered with an organization called a registrar. Sometimes your hosting company also provides domain registration; however, it is just as common for your domain to be registered elsewhere. Common registrars include: Godaddy, NameCheap, Name.com, Domain.com, Google Domains, and Enom.
Search your emails for any mention of these domain registrars and any billing associated. Typical billing for basic domain names range between $9-20 per year; however, top level domain names such as lawyer.com could cost significantly more.
Web designers often put their signature at the bottom of your website. This will provide you with a link that takes you to their company site. If your previous web builder did not provide this signature, see if you have any records of when the site was built. If you can get an idea of when your website was launched, you can search back in your email correspondence to see who you were in touch with during that time.
If your previous web designer has retired, moved, or cannot be reached, then you can always find a new web designer to take over your website for you.
Sometimes, your web builder may have been part of a digital agency. Digital agencies can provide a wide range of services including Google Ads, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), social media, and marketing. You may not be searching for a company that specializes in web development so bear that in mind when looking for your web designer.
Content Management System
It is helpful to know what content management system or CMS your website is built in. Top CMS include WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal. Other self-hosted web builders include Wix, Squarespace, and Shopify. Knowing which builder you have can help you understand the work involved in gaining access to editing your website. Each of these CMSs will require different expertise in order to edit moving forward. If you want to maintain your WordPress site but are looking for a web builder/designer that can help you improve it, then look for a web designer that lists WordPress as a specialty.
Reach out to a specialist
If all else fails, reach out to a specialist. Contact another digital agency or web company who may be able to help you track down the missing pieces of information and help you get back on track and access to your website. Having an ongoing partnership with a web company can be a saving grace and can save you a lot of headache in the event that you need access to your website during a crash, malware attempt, or urgent update.
I wish you the best of luck on taking control over your web presence. If you have additional questions, feel free to reach out! I’d be happy to write a follow up blog with a process to help others like you.