3 avoidable website nightmares

If you’ve pried in your website brief, and made your developer adore you—an awesome website is in the pipeline … unless … these website nightmares rear their ugly heads. Fortunately, these messy scenarios are completely preventable! Here are 3 sticky website scenarios you can solve from the onset of a project:

1. Content stalls the design process.

The design is magical, the client is thrilled, and you’re nearly ready to launch … but, where’s the content? When waiting for content, the momentum gets lost—and it’s hard to pick back up. Sadly, I’ve seen lack of content stall websites too many times. I continue to refine my process so it never happens again. If content curation is not your forte, think about hiring a copywriter to get it done. How to avoid: A defined content schedule and persistence.

2. The website gets taken hostage.

Would you buy yourself a car—then give the keys to somebody else? Doubtful. That’s why I believe clients should have the keys to their own car, know where it’s parked, and be named on the title. I’ve seen web developers (intentionally and unintentionally) hold websites hostage from clients, and it’s just not right. If the person with the password moves to a tropical island, the client is out of luck. Clients should have full access. Let’s avoid website abduction in these areas:


Some designers might offer hosting as a service, but it’s not my favorite idea. It can leave a giant hole in support. What happens if this hosting designer is on vacation? What happens at 3AM? I like clients to set up their own accounts with a web host (see my favorite hosts in #3) so they can have their own relationship and manage billing. When a client’s email goes down, they can call the host. In most cases, the host has the support and tools to fix the problem. How to avoid: Ensure client secures their own hosting account.


The domain can be purchased through the webhost, or through a separate domain registrar—but it must be purchased through the client’s account, with their contact information. Nobody cares as much about renewing a client’s domain as the client themselves. How to avoid: Ensure client owns their domain.

Admin accounts

If you design a WordPress site for your client, but they don’t have admin access, then they don’t have full control of their own site. With control comes ownership. How to avoid: Give the client their own admin account.

3. Too much downtime.

For a website to do its job—it has to be up! My favorite webhosts are SiteGround, WP Engine, and Liquid Web.

They are economical choices who have great support, and their websites are up most of the time. Depending on a client’s needs, it’s our job to educate them about which host to use—and there’s a lot to consider, for example: if a client is going to be featured on Good Morning America, their hosting package should be able to handle that traffic. How to avoid: Help your clients make an informed decision about hosting.

We work hard to be awesome, stay at the forefront, and give our clients the best result. It’s why we do things like read the blogs of other creatives, read industry magazines and attend conferences like WordCamp and the upcoming CFBC (if you’re attending, please say hello)! Knowledge is power, and through knowledge, most sticky situations can be avoided before they ever happen.

Alas, no matter how hard we try and how much we plan—the occasional stickiness is bound to come up. True coolness is about how we handle these situations! With good communication, and partners to guide us, we can’t go wrong.

If you ever find yourself in a sticky website situation, I’d be happy to share my insight. I’m here if you need me.

About Jill Anderson

Hi, I’m Jill, a WordPress WordPress designer/developer who partners with talented designers, copywriters, and agencies on their websites, and their client’s sites. I’m passionate about crafting beautiful and innovative WordPress websites focused on clear positioning and positive user experiences. Get my free report, Get Your Website Done: 12 Actionable Steps for Designers, and check out my Client Onboarding Toolkit, a simple 4-step digital course for converting prospects into a paying clients.


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7 thoughts on “3 avoidable website nightmares

  1. Clients not providing content on time is the number one reason for delays in my experience. Clients often want their sites to go live asap but can take weeks to sort out the content. If it’s not a task you want to do yourself then please use a copywriter to help you get your content sorted.

    I agree on some of aspects of point 2 as well. I think it’s disgusting when web designers deliberately hold a clients domain name hostage. Make sure you register your own domain or that it is registered in your own name by your web designer.

    I would probably disagree with you on the hosting point, there are some of us who provide a great hosting service along with support but I do know where you are coming from. I often see clients who have had a terrible experience hosting their site with a web designer who doesn’t know the first thing about server management and customer care.

    1. Thanks Luke! You’re definitely right—there are designers/developers who offer great hosting service + support. I’m just a fan of companies where that’s their #1 sprecialty :)

      1. Yeah I definitely understand that point of view. There are some hosting companies who are awful but in fact the majority of them do provide a great service and support. I’ve had experience with most of the well known hosting companies and there are a few I wouldn’t use even if they were the last hosting company in the world. Others however have been a pleasure to work with and I have even recommended them when I feel the client would benefit.

        Do your research thouroughly is what I’d say to anyone considering hosting with either a web designer or a company dedicated to hosting. Like with any industry you get people who know what they’re doing and others who don’t.

  2. I agree that clients should always have access to anything involving their site like domain name registration, hosting, and CMS access if applicable.

    But I’m split on whether it’s easier/better for then to create these accounts on their own. For a few reasons:

    1) Most times clients are hiring me because they don’t know how to do any of this themselves. Or they have no interest. Often both of those things. Being able to set up hosting, register a domain, and point it to their new website is something I can do easily because I am an expert and that’s part of the value I provide them.

    2) In the past when I simply advised clients what vendors to choose for different things, like hosting, the end result was often the same anyway. Their website is down so they call me. I refer them to their hosting vendor support. Hosting vendor support says the problem is “some technical jargon the client doesn’t understand”. Client calls me back to relay the message from support. I then coordinate with support.

    Or client asks me to do work on their site. I need access to something that requires support from the hosting vendor. But support will only talk to you if you have login credentials, pin, billing zip code, security questions, etc.

    Ultimately these two scenarios are really the same. They’re about convenience and value for the client. I always felt like I was giving the client the runaround if I referred them off to deal with issues through another party or to navigate a setup or registration process they were unfamiliar with. And realistically had no need to ever become familiar with.

    Just my two cents though.

    1. Thanks, Michael! You make a great point about acting as an intermediary between clients and hosting companies. I like to let my clients know that I’m here for them whenever they have questions and I’ll totally step in whenever they need me to.

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