As a developer I feel it is morally (and legally) wrong to withhold information about a clients website or hosting. Why some developers take their anger or frustration out on their clients is beyond me. I fully understand how difficult some clients can be, but nothing they can do should make you abandon your own professionalism.
Be Professional at all times!
You may not like it, but sometimes clients move on. You might feel that you’ve been taken advantage of, or that you have been unfairly treated. It can sometimes feel like someone is dumping you. Painful, and/or frustrating as it may be, no one should be able to make you abandon your professionalism. Only you can do that.
Moreover, your professionalism should be what supports you through difficult clients. After all, what is the point of offering client’s services if you are not going to do it correctly. When you run a business it is just as much about attitude as it is about quality of the work.
What do you owe clients?
You owe them everything! By that I mean they should get everything. They should be given access to every service you create or manage for them. You are morally (and legally) obligated to make sure they have all the account names, URL’s and passwords for ALL their sites and services.
I see way too many “developers” who, through either spite or laziness do not supply this vital information to their clients. Too many times I have had to hunt down and reset all kinds of information for clients because their original developer has flaked on them.
As a client, what should I have?
Any developer you hire should supply you with everything! All the URL’s and all the passwords to everything should be given to you. All accounts, everything like hosting, or SSL certificates, or any type of cloud service like CDN, should ALL be setup using your email accounts.
If, and when you move away from your developer you need to be able to do two things. The first is gain access to all your services. The second is to change the passwords to all your services so the old developer no longer has access. This is to protect yourself as well as your old developer.
When the relationship between you and your developer ends, it can get messy. Some people are not stable and may want to retaliate. Locking them out of your services protects you. It might sound strange but it protects the developer as well.
Clients can be unstable as well, they can mess things up and then blame the old developer. As a developer, when a client leaves you, make sure it is a clean and total split. Do not get hung out to dry by a crazy client who might try to make you liable for something you didn’t do.
Things Happen, Be Prepared!
Life is happening all the time. Things can happen that are out of the control of everyone. Making sure that a developer has shared all the important information with you (as the client) is just good practice. If a developer becomes unavailable through no fault of their own, having this information will be vital to your business.
What is the bottom line?
As a client, insist on being kept up-to-date by the developer. Tell them before you hire them this is what you expect from them. Make sure they understand you are to have all your usernames and passwords. Letting them know that you will retain master control over everything from the beginning will save a lot of trouble. Oh, and make sure you save all this information in a VERY safe place.
As a developer, make sure you pass all data onto your client. Not just because it is the proper and professional thing to do. But because it makes the client feel more involved. It makes them feel safer, that they have control of things. It doesn’t matter that they have no idea what to do with the control. At the very least they will not feel held hostage by you. This will build good will with the clients. And you know what they say, happy clients, happy life. Or something like that.
Its not them, its you!
I am not trying to say all developers are flakes (but a lot are). What I am saying is, protect yourself. As a client make sure you can move forward without your current developer. As a developer make sure your client(s) can move forward without you. You may not like it, but as a professional developer that is part of your responsibilities to your clients.