Should You Have Access to Your Website?
I’ve written before about the question of providing access to your website. We’ve recently run into an interesting case though: a site owner whose webmaster won’t give him access to his analytics or administrative access to his WordPress site.
There are at least three possibilities:
- The webmaster doesn’t trust him. I once worked with a client who accidentally threw her home page in the trash. Some people shouldn’t have admin access to their websites. If you are uncomfortable with computers, or if you have extreme techno joy and will be upset if something breaks, then you should consider staying out of your website’s innards. We know that when it comes to analytics, people often find it hard to tell what’s going on. The webmaster in question may worry that the client will be needlessly alarmed, or that he’ll call constantly with bizarre questions. He doesn’t seem like that kind of guy to me, but I’m not his webmaster.
- The webmaster is protecting his income. If this webmaster charges for all changes and for analytics reports, he’s giving up income if he lets his client look for himself. True, most WordPress site owners can make their own changes if they want to, and Google Analytics is free, but there’s some effort and time involved in setting these things up in the first place. If the webmaster makes his money on the reports and changes, you can see why he doesn’t want to put in the time to set it all up and then lose the anticipated ongoing revenue.
- The webmaster has something to hide. This seems least likely to me, but it’s not impossible. If you can’t get what seems to you to be a reasonable degree of access to the website you paid for, you should ask why and get a satisfactory answer.
The real solution is simply to get questions of access clear before you sign the contract. We — and most web firms — agree that clients own their websites, including the content, the images, and the domain name. We might recommend that they stay out of the site (and we have) if they don’t have the skills they need to avoid breaking their site, but the website is theirs.
Find out the position your designers or webmasters take on this question before you get too far into the relationship. It’s hard to change after the fact.