Many clients come to us because they are unhappy with the service they've received from previous website developers. In some cases they have been dissatisfied for a long time, but have felt powerless to do anything about it because they lack the confidence or technical knowledge to take their custom elsewhere.
Here is a list of some of common complaints:
- "I can never get hold of the person who built my site"
- "I asked them to change the site months ago but it's still out-of-date"
- "They never give me guidance about what to put on the site"
- "I have to ask them to fix mistakes several times before they get it right"
- "He's expensive but he's the only one who knows how to update the website"
- "I want to leave but I feel like my website is held to ransom"
If any of these comments sound familiar, you should consider taking your business elsewhere. After all, you wouldn't go to a restaurant or shop where you regularly got bad service! A good website is a serious investment and a crucial part of your business - a bad one is at best a waste of money, while at worst it will put customers off.
Your first step should be to have a frank conversation about your concerns with your website developer. This will often resolve minor issues which arise from simple misunderstandings or miscommunication.
If disputes do arise, check the original project documentation and agreements made via letter or email. It's important to make sure every aspect of a website project is recorded in detail before agreeing to a quote. If you feel the contract hasn't been honoured or you decide to leave for whatever reason, try to negotiate a settlement.
It will make your life a lot easier if you retain the co-operation of your existing web developer so we recommend that you try to maintain a dialogue at all times. However we understand that this is not always possible and sometimes you are forced to take action.
Where is my website hosted?
Hopefully you have a record of your website and domain hosting package, plus login details for a control panel and FTP. If you know where the control panel is but have lost your login details, there may be a forgotten password facility which will send an email reminder with the login details.
If you don't know where the website is hosted and cannot get hold of this information, it can often be found with a little detective work:
- Click the start button
- Go to All Programs
- Choose Accessories
- If you have Vista, right-click Command Prompt and right click Run As Administrator. In Windows XP just click Command Prompt.
- In the new window that opens, type tracert [your domain name] e.g.
The final line of the tracert (short for trace route) shows the website or IP address of the computer hosting the website, and should give an indication of the web hosting company.
If the web hosting package is in your name, contact technical support or customer services of the web hosting company to find out how to access the website files. Once you have gained access you should download a copy of the entire site in case you need to upload it to a new location.
If you're concerned about your site being altered or removed, change the login details straight away.
Who owns the domain?
Check the registration record of your website's domain name. Domain registration details are publicly available and can be checked through a number of internet query tools such as Demon's.
A domain will be registered with an owner's name, postal address, contact email address and the website's name servers. If you are named as the owner, you have the authority to update the other details, including the name servers which control which website the domain points to. In order to gain full access, you may need to prove your identity to the domain registrar by sending a fax on headed paper and copies of recent bills with your name and address.
Once you have control of the domain you can update any details that are incorrect, for example the contact email address. You can also update the name servers to point to a new web location where your website is located.
How do I set up a new website?
You don't necessarily need to purchase a new domain and web hosting package, but if you do there are several steps to follow:
- to transfer a .com you need to ask the current registrar for the authorisation key, unlock the domain and then give the authorisation key to your new registrar
- to transfer a .co.uk or .org you need to ask the current registrar to update the IPS tag to that of your new registrar
- create email mailboxes for all your email addresses and set up these accounts in your mail program
- download all the website files from your current web host and upload them to the new web location
- if your website uses a database, obtain a database dump and use this to set up a copy of the database at the new location
- update the name servers of your domain to point to the new web location