Starting a Website for Someone Else

I recently helped a friend set up a website to showcase her writing. We chose for several reasons including the availability of themes that are, in my (and her) opinion, a little more professional looking than what you’ll find at Blogger.

Give Diane a read.

“Ya’ll might like it.”

Starting a website for someone else is slightly different than starting one for yourself. Basically you start it as your own but then hand-over the reins once it’s running.

The hand-over is the tricky part. There are multiple steps and, if done incorrectly, both parties can be locked out. (The web hosting service, WordPress in our case, can do the rescue if this happens but will take some time.)

The correct sequence is:

  1. Create the new website using the other person’s name but your own email and password.
  2. Make it look like “the customer wants”. This can be challenging as some things are easy, some are hard and others just can’t be done. Knowing which is which, doing the easy and hard ones, and then explaining that last category and offering alternatives is sometimes the hardest.
  3. Depending on the customer’s abilities, involve them in the work. Remember that if you’re doing this as a favor, you don’t want to be the sole caretaker for the rest of your life. Train them on how to do basic things such as post a new article with proper formatting and maybe include a picture or two. Show them how to change the color scheme, administer comments and deal with spam. Oh yes, there will be spam! (Never post your private email address. At a WordPress site, you can set up a new email address using your website’s URL that is silently forwarded to your private email address. No one needs to know what that private email address is and, keeping it private, will help keep the spammers from hitting you directly.)
  4. When the website looks good enough and the owner seems ready, do the turn-over.
    1. Add an administrator account or login for yourself. (Temporarily you will have two ways of logging in – as the customer and via this new login.)
    2. Verify that new login works and gives you full administrator rights. It is absolutely essential to verify that this actually works because in the next step, you’re going to give the website away.
    3. Change the website’s primary email address to that of the customer. Heretofore, official emails have been coming to you. But after this, they’ll all go to the customer.
    4. Tell the customer to login using the original login – don’t email the password! Instead, call them on the telephone to pass it over. And tell them to change the password to anything they wish, but to be sure and change the password. And to keep it secret, even from you. Remember, the website belongs to them so, from this point on, they can do whatever they wish.
    5. When they change their password, it’s done.
  5. From that point on and for as long as they want, you can still use the added administrator login you created in step A (and verified in step B). You can continue to maintain the website as long as they want. But it is their website now. As the owner, they can turn you off anytime they wish. This is important – that feeling of “ownership” is powerful; it’s the right thing to feel. Those are their words, their opinions, their beliefs that appear on the website. They need to “own” those words. The turnover is when they take mental as well as physical possession. From that point on, it’s their website.

Doing this for someone is fairly common. Not everyone has the computer skills to configure their own website but, once established, many can add their own content.

If you’ve set up a website or blog for yourself, doing one for someone else is basically the same. Of course, you’ll have to set it up like they want and you may need to sometimes explain why some things are hard (or impossible). And remember, it’s OK to say, “I don’t know how to do that.”

In most cases, I think you’ll find you can create a very nice look that your friend will be very happy to receive.

Gifts are nice things.

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