The 11 Digital Commandments

  1. Thou shalt not use the same password twice, nor shall you use a weak password — ever. You don’t have to remember them all. Use a password manager like 1Password (1password.com) or LastPass (lastpass.com) and you’ll only have to remember one.
  2. Thou shalt not allow your web developer to purchase your domain name for you. Your domain name is a valuable business asset and you don’t want anyone else to be in control of it. Remember to register your domain with a permanent email that you’ll check often, because domain names must be renewed annually.
  3. Thou shalt not purchase the cheapest hosting on the planet. Even if you have a tiny little site and you expect to receive little traffic, cheap hosting = SLOOOOOOOOOW hosting. Slow hosting is a painful user experience for the person using your site, and the developer who has to make changes to the site. Please don’t.
  4. Thou shalt retain administrative credentials to access your website at all times. Once your website is built, it is yours. You should be able to make simple changes if and when you want to. Having administrative credentials also enables you to move on to another service provider at some point, if you choose.
  5. Thou shalt understand that cheap and free websites are rarely either cheap or free. That $300 website might seem like a good deal, but when you’re not gaining any customers, the site looks awful on mobile, or the site is constantly being hacked, you’re going to have to call someone to fix it… and that’s not going to be cheap or free either.
  6. Thou shalt not use images on your website or in social media (or anywhere!) that you found on Google. You can be fined thousands of dollars for using images you have not purchased the rights to use… and you WILL be caught eventually. Check these resources for stock photos and videos you can use:
    istock.com
    shutterstock.com
    photodune.net
    No money? Try these websites, who make images available for free using the Creative Commons Zero license:
    unsplash.com
    pexels.com
    stocksnap.io
  7. Thou shalt make sure that your website is backed up regularly. Most websites should be backed up a minimum of monthly. Ecommerce websites should be backed up daily.
  8. Thou shalt keep your website secure. This is accomplished in a few ways:
    1. For web platforms that support it (such as WordPress), a security plugin is essential to help keep the nasties away. Your developer can help you choose an appropriate plugin. Do not confuse this type of security with SiteLock, which is something your hosting company might want to try to sell you (and I don’t personally recommend).
    2. Make sure that all aspects of your website (the platform, theme(s) and plugins) are kept up-to-date. Security patches are released regularly, and staying up to date minimizes your exposure.
    3. Maintain control of how many people have administrative access to your website. Giving multiple people total access to your site multiplies the risk of your site being compromised, so only a few trusted individuals should hold the keys to your web kingdom. Don’t share your credentials with anyone, rather, create a new user for that person (so you can revoke those credentials if you need to).
  9. Thou shalt retain the original vector files for your logo design (and other graphics). Those images should be in .ai, .pdf, or .eps format. If you work with a new designer, a printer, a developer, or a marketing agency, they will need these files in order to create the best outcome for your project.
  10. Thou shalt keep track of your email when moving your domain and/or hosting to another provider. Email is often sold as part of a package, but if your developer isn’t aware of how it’s being managed or that you also need that moved, you might end up with a nasty and irrevocable surprise one day when you open your inbox.
  11. Thou shalt not assume all web professionals are alike. Although we may use some of the same language, we are not all cut from the same cloth. Just like the general public, there are some good folks and a few bad ones. Don’t let a poor prior experience cause you to go sour.

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