Imagine this. You are in love (hear me out!) and your partner offers to help you build a website for your business. That’s sweet, isn’t it?
So, he does, and everything is going along swimmingly until, as sometimes happens, you break up. The relationship is over, you’ve exchanged belongings and gone on with your lives.
Except, he was the only person with the login info for your website, and it was one of the things that didn’t get passed off in the exchange of goods.
Oh, you’d never ever put yourself in that position?
Okay. How about imagining this instead?
You hired a web designer who registered your domain on your behalf and the login information was never passed on to you. Meanwhile, you decide it’s time to bring in a different developer to support you who better suits your needs and working style.
Now your original designer has decided to hold your domain hostage and gives you zero access to it – which they can do, because they have the login info and you don’t.
These are just a couple of the REAL-LIFE nightmare scenarios that I’ve heard from business owners, and there are so many more out there.
Keep your web developer close, and your logins closer
You put a lot of faith in your web developer, but don’t forget that they are building your site FOR YOU. Expecting total access to it once it has been built shouldn’t be a big deal. If it is, maybe look for a new developer.
(Bit of a side note here: your developer may hold off on giving you the login info until after the site is built. That’s for everyone’s protection. Poking around and making changes in the admin could break the in-progress site if you don’t know what you’re doing, setting everyone back.)
It’s surprisingly common for creative professionals to not have all (or, sometimes any) of their logins. It’s just not even on their radar that they should have them, so they don’t think to ask.
Because if you don’t have that information, it could end badly. I don’t want you to be another one of my web horror stories.
Even if you don’t get stuck with a disgruntled ex-partner or web developer, there are plenty of other good reasons to make sure you have your logins.
At a minimum, if you are in the dark about how to get into your site, it means you’re not in control of your site – which not only doesn’t feel very good, but it also puts you at risk.
It also adds unnecessary work to figure out where everything is registered/hosted and what the login credentials are for each website property.
Logins and logins and logins – oh my!
You likely have more logins than you realize, and you really need to have easy access to them all.
I’ve outlined some of the most important ones below, but you can also grab a handy checklist in the Ultimate Guide to Planning Your Next Website.
Make sure you have a record of all of the following logins that apply to your specific website platform.
This is where you registered (and where you manage) your website domain name. You’ll need the registrar company name, your username, password and account email address.
Third Party Accounts
- Custom Fonts Account (e.g., TypeKit)
- Email Marketing Account (e.g., ConvertKit, MailChimp, etc.)
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
Site Builder Login
If your website was built using a website builder platform (Squarespace, for example), then you won’t have a hosting login but you will have a site builder account. You’ll want to record your account login URL, username and password.
If your website is powered by WordPress.org, you’ll need your admin login URL, username and password.
Side note: you should NOT give everyone on your team this login; be sure to review How to Manage Your WordPress Users for more info on the best way to share your WordPress logins.
If you are using a self-hosted platform like WordPress, you will have a website hosting account. You should keep a record of your hosting company’s URL, your hosting control panel username and password, and your FTP URL, username and password.
If you don’t have your FTP info, your developer should be able to ascertain that info through your hosting account login info, but don’t forget to change your FTP details if you ever change your other passwords in the future.
You will have this if you purchased a WordPress theme from a website like Themeforest, Elegant Themes or something of that nature; for example, if you use Avada or Jupiter or Divi or some other theme.
Make sure to keep record of your theme site login URL, username and password. You’ll need this info to do future theme updates (which is important to maintain your website’s security).
If your website developer custom built your WordPress theme from scratch, you won’t have a theme account.
You’ll also need to keep a record of your login credentials for any plugins you’ve used. For example, that might include plugin accounts such as:
I know this sounds like a lot to keep top of mind and taken care of but it’s not as much as it seems. It’s just a matter of getting and staying organized.
Some people like to use a Google spreadsheet, others like to use a physical notebook.
My professional advice?
I recommend a password management tool like LastPass.com. It’s an affordable solution that helps manage all of your passwords so that you have them all in one place and never have to worry about forgetting them.
Small price to pay for peace of mind.
Be my next happy ending story
Imagine this – your domain was set up by a developer and the relationship goes sour. Now that developer is holding your logins hostage.
You could have the ending my client had, having to pursue legal action (and invest SO MUCH TIME) to regain control of your site, while at the same time having to do business under a different domain extension until you can claim ownership to the dot com.
OR, you could avoid being my next horror story and do your homework early so that you can avoid disaster later on.
Take the time to review the logins you have and compile a list of any you don’t. Find the best solution for your business to manage your logins.
And for the love, make sure your domain is registered in your name.