Jordan Klassen is a web designer for J. Klassen Inc., a Vancouver BC Web Design and Development company. He has been designing and developing websites for over 10 years, working on 250+ websites. He has his BBA from the University of Toronto.
All the work done by J. Klassen Inc. provides the necessary copyright, licenses, files and tools you need to maintain control of your website, independent even from us. Contact us to have us design and develop your website or if you have any questions about what you need to control your website.
Taking Control of Your Website: Copyright, Updates, Logos, Source Files, and File & Database Backup
The files and rights you need to have control over your website, independent of third party providers like your hosting company, web designer or web developer, in case something goes wrong or you need to make a change.
There are four areas of concern when it comes to maintaining independent control of your website in case something goes wrong or you need to make a change:
A fifth concern might be your domain name, which is covered here.
Copyright, Licenses & Updates
Make sure your agreement with your web designer allows you to maintain and update your website without them, should you need to in the future. This doesn't necessarily mean that you need to have the copyright to the code, since your developer can save significant time and budget by using their own or open-source code or software.
You should make sure that you have a license to the code that
- does not expire,
- let's you make your own changes or additions, and
- is not tied to continued use of your existing web designer or developer.
Besides a license or ownership, you'll also need to make sure that you are in possession of the files used. See "File Backup" for more on what you need, when and how to get it.
Be wary of solutions hosted by others, or solutions that involve a recurring licensing fee for core functionality, since the businesses offering these solutions could go out of business or change their fees or future licensing agreement. Two exceptions to this are your domain name, which has an annual fee (but there is no way around this), and hosting, which is a service that is relatively easy to switch to another vendor.
What it is
Your logo is the icon and/or text you use to represent your company. Even if you just use text, the text is often in a specific font, with specific attributes (color, spacing, or other changes) that may be hard to reproduce exactly without a digital copy of your logo.
What You Need
Make sure you have or obtain the following files for your logo:
- A high resolution or vector (scalable) copy of your logo (often in .psd, .ai, .tiff or .pdf format, occasionally as a very large .jpg, .gif, or .png file)
- A copy of the font files for any fonts used in the logo (.ttf, .otf, .fon)
- A large .jpg copy of your logo
The first two items are helpful whenever you have anything professional done that includes your logo (business cards, ads, websites, etc.). The last item is helpful whenever you need a logo for something you are doing yourself or in-house.
If you don't have a copy of these yourself or within your organization, whoever designed it should have this. Your web designer will usually need this up front but can sometimes work with whatever you happen to have, if necessary. If your web designer is also creating your logo, make sure you obtain these from them after this phase of the project is complete.
It is important to have a copy of all the files that make up your website in case something happens to your server, or with your relationship with your website host or web designer / developer.
Your website is made up of a variety of different types of files that combine to form each web page. These files are often stored in a different form when on the web server than when viewed in a web browser. For instance, your home page may pull from more than one file on the server, and make some decisions as to what needs to be sent to the browser. For this reason, it is important to obtain a copy of all the files that make up your website from your web designer or developer and not just save what you see when you view your site.
Further, some parts of your website could be made up of output files and editable files. The output files cannot be edited (or edited fully) by themselves. They need to be created with their editable equivalent. Similarly the editable files can often only be viewed in specific software and isn't in an appropriate format to be used as part of your website (they could be too big, too slow, or lack compatibility). Some examples:
- Your website template is usually designed in a photoshop file (.psd) which is then output into several .jpg, or .gif files.
- Flash files have an output file (a .swf file) as well as an editable .fla file that created it.
- Videos have a larger original file, as well as a smaller version designed to play quicker.
- Stock photos are often cropped and downsized for use on your website.
Make sure you obtain both the output file and the original, editable, or source files for it.
You should obtain a copy of all the files that make up your website and all the source files from your web designer or developer when your site goes live. If you have your designer make occasional changes (a few times a year or less), you should obtain copies of the changed files each time. If you have your designer making regular changes (a few times a month or more) you should obtain a copy of the whole site or updated files on a regular basis.
Adding Images and Files Yourself
If your site is setup such that you can upload images or files yourself through some sort of content management system (CMS), you should store a copy of the files you add yourself. Your copy should be stored with the same folder names on your computer as they are on the website, so the files can quickly be restored by copying your folder over to the server (your web designer can help you with any restoration). If the files you upload are renamed by your CMS, you should save a copy of the renamed files as displayed on your website as well as your originals.
When your website first goes live, your web designer can email you a .zip file (or a link to a .zip file) containing all the files that make up your site as well as any source files used to create them. When your web designer makes changes, you can either obtain a new .zip file of the whole site (keep the original though) or they might email you just the updated files and the folder they should go in.
Sometimes, your content management system or hosting account will allow you to download your own full backup of the website in which case you can download the updates directly in this way.
If your website is database-driven, you should have a copy of the database and back-up your database whenever you make changes, or on a regular basis if visitors can register or make other changes. Your site likely database-driven, if you have an administrative area where you can add, edit, or delete content; or view orders or user submissions; or if visitors can register or post content to the site (photos, comments, questions, etc).
When your site is first launched, you can ask your web designer for a copy of the database. If you have an administrative area, there may be a link to "Back up the database". Clicking on this link will prompt you to save the database back-up file (.sql), save it with the default file name as is. Your web designer should be able to use this file to restore your database to the state it was when you saved this file, if something goes wrong with the live database or your hosting account. If you don't have this "back-up" link option for your database, ask your web developer and they should be able to add it for you.
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