As a web design company, we’ve seen the good and the bad of other website designers. Unfortunately, we take over from some flaky or unreliable web designers. The client is typically the party that gets the short end of the stick when it comes to using a bad web designer. Examples include: no access to their website, no control over their domain, or they can’t reach their original website designer. Implement these processes to ensure that you are protected, no matter who you use.
Own and control your own domain.
Never ever ever leave the control of your domain (example.com) in only your designer’s hands. If they go out of business or miss a renewal payment, your domain will expire and will be relatively expensive to buy back, in the best case. If your domain is not in your control, contact your web designer immediately and have them transfer it into your own account. I recommend GoDaddy.
Get a periodic backup of the website.
Many companies offer hosting services as well. Organize a weekly or monthly backup of the website to be delivered to you via email, Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon, etc. This way, if the worst were to happen to your web designer, you will have all of the data from the most recent backup that you could give to another designer.
I cannot tell you have many clients we have that needed to start from scratch because their website mysteriously disappeared one day and their website designer was nowhere to be found.
Be careful of friends or family.
In our experience, family is a great way to get a website done effectively, but for every reward there is a risk. Many startup businesses will hire their cousin, aunt, sister, etc who create great websites on the side. If you need updates and maintenance regularly, be very careful of hiring your friends or family, especially if web design or development is not their full time job. Your website will become their second priority to their main work, and even their relaxation and social life.
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.
In summary, the old saying still stays true in this case. You don’t want to put all of the control and dependency on one company or person. What if that person dies? What if the company goes out of business? Ask these questions yourself and to your proposed web designer. Have them implement a system that you are comfortable with, so either of you could walk away, and still have your website.