Picture the scene; you decide it's time to move your website to another host – maybe because the relationship with your current web developer or agency has broken down or you feel you're not getting the best them. Either way, it's time to say goodbye.
It's horrible when it comes to this but business goes on, so it's important you have everything in order so that you can smoothly move your website to another host.
We know through experience – we've helped several clients to move on from other web developers and agencies in the past – that it's really important to make sure you have everything you need for a smooth transition, otherwise complications and costs might occur down the road. This blog goes through those bare essentials so that you know what to check and also what to request from your existing provider should you wish to move on.
This is the crucial one because if you don't have the rights to the code of the website, then any dream you have of wanting to move your website to another host goes up in smoke.
It's unfortunately a common occurrence with template websites or website building software that when you pay your money and sign your contract, this doesn't actually give you any rights to the website. The template and website building software belongs to them so, when you want to leave them, you have two choices: either stick with them or cut your losses with nothing – this can be frustrating given the time, money and effort you've put in.
However, if you think that you have the rights to your website and its code, the first place to check is the contract that you signed. 9 out of 10 times it will state in the contract that you should have the right to the website code but not the creative design rights. This makes sense, after all they did build it. This is the same as if you buy -for example – a Ford Focus. You own and have the rights to the physical car, but Ford retain the creative rights to its design, shape and name.
Back to websites, the bottom line is, if you purchased it – why can't you own it? Yes the web developer or agency would have the creative license as it's their designs and skills that were used to create it but it's your product that you'd paid for them to deliver. Imagine, if you bought a cake and started eating it but the baker suddenly said you can't have it all because you don't own it – that would be insane surely!?
This one again can leave you and your new web developer or agency stuck when you want to move your website to another host. If, when you left your current provider, you marched into their office, gave them a piece of your mind and burned that hypothetical bridge, what then happens when you realise you need the files from them? What about if they won't return your calls or are so slow to reply that you can't get any data?
It's important then that you have access to the website back-end (if it has one) so you can update the website and also give the details to your new web developer or agency. Either you need to request this prior to telling your current provider that you want to leave, or you need to make sure that you leave them on good terms so that you can get back in! We recommend the former 😉
The other access that you will become crucial when you transfer the website is your FTP details. This will allow your new provider to easily download the files for the website and get you on the road to transferring over.
Let's say you have a WordPress website; below is a rough list of the files that you will need should you decide to leave your current agency or developer:
If you don't have all those files, then it is likely that your website won't work correctly when it's installed in its new home.
If your website is not built with WordPress and you need to work out what files you need, then please get in touch with us for advice.
This is one that surprises and worries us the most: when you've paid for a website but when you come to take it away, you don't have the license rights! Now you are either stuck with a plugin that can't be updated or have to pay for a new license to keep it working.
Sometimes, licenses such as 'Advanced Custom Fields' allow for one license purchase to be used over a number of websites. This means that you can't walk away with that right. However, if you can leave your current provider on good terms, you may be allowed for the license to be associated with your account. Otherwise you will need to purchase your own.
When your website is being built, it's advised to purchase all licenses yourself – then you have them and they belong solely to you and your business.
If you decide to pack up everything and transfer it all, then it's necessary that your new provider is given the login details for your email accounts, but, more importantly, your domain.
Sometimes the domain name is part of a collective of domains that your existing provider manages, so in that case they will just need to transfer it to your new provider.
It is the law in the UK that the business owns the domain name, not the agency so you have the right to it. There sometimes might be a charge to move it, but that depends on the provider.
Your email accounts are also needed so that your new provider can back up all of your emails and move them over. Not having those details around can delay the process and incur you costs, as well as potentially losing you business during the transitional period.
Not always easy when relationships break down 🙁 but if you can leave your old agency or developer behind on good terms, then it allows you to communicate in the future should any problems occur or you need to ask them something about the website they developed for you.
If not and you think it's the end, then make sure that you have all the necessary details and access to your website so you can have a smooth transition before burning your bridges!