Have you seen your Web Developer?

Last week we had a string of several companies contact us for help because they can’t find their web developer, only to discover their Web Development company has gone out of business and the status of their project is unknown. This happens every once in a while, but last week I started getting these calls EVERY DAY. Yes, it is possible to hire a new developer to pick up where they left off, but only if you are prepared. Depending on how the website was setup and what information had been turned over to the owner, sometimes the only recourse is to start over.

Website Owners

If you are currently in the middle of a web development project and you have not been in touch with your web developer recently, here is a to-do list before you panic:

  1. Get a Status Update – If you have not been in touch for awhile, it doesn’t hurt to call or email and ask for a friendly status update. Once you do get a hold of them, you may request setting a time for a regular status update until the project is finished.
  2. Ask for a Meeting or a Conference Call – If after getting a status update you are still not comfortable, ask for a face-to-face meeting if possible, just to review the project. Ask for the programmers actually working on your site to attend the meeting and get their names just in case.
  3. Gather your Passwords – Make sure you know where your domain name is, where your website is hosted and see if you can get any source files used to create your site. I would collect this information at every milestone, just to make sure you have it. This is the info you will need in case you need to find additional help. Plus, its good to have on file anyway.
  4. Find them on Social Media – Remember those programmer names I asked you to write down? See if you can find them on LinkedIn or a Social networking site. If they will link to you, you might have another contact to recover your project if needed. You can also make sure your contact is still currently employed with the firm you hired.

What were the signs there was a problem?

Here are some examples of how the folks we talked to last week found out that there was a problem:

  • Progress on the website stopped and the owner was having trouble getting his calls returned.
  • Emails starting bouncing back.
  • One of the owners drove by the Developer’s office and saw they had moved out and no one had notified them.
  • The Developer they were working with asked them to direct communication to a new project team in the Ukraine.

Note to Web Developers:

When is the last time you gave a status update to your clients? If you built a website for someone, when was the last time you checked in with that client? They would like to know you are around in case they need you. If what we are starting to see, is just the beginning of a trend, communication will be key.

Note to Website Owners:

I know you hired a web development firm so you could hand off the website work to someone else, but don’t get too far removed. If you don’t know the status of your project, track it down today.

Do you know of someone who has been caught in this problem? What were the signs that things were going wrong? Please share your experience and help alert others.