Changing Website Developers

A question we are regularly asked is:

"Could you take over development of our website, or recommend someone who could?"

There is rarely an easy answer for this. No matter how simple a website appears from the front, there are a myriad of ways it could be created in the back. How clean is the markup? Which web platform was used? What type of web server server does it require? Are any other special tools required?

Even a "typical" WordPress site is not so certain. One cannot assume two WordPress sites are the same. There are vast libraries of plugins, themes and tools available which could have been used. This affects not only development and maintenance but simple content changes as well.

We have occasionally assisted customers with their WordPress sites. Those efforts quickly revealed that each WordPress site requires a significant amount of reverse-engineering to determine how it was put together. Some sites are easy to update. Others are overly complex, with content buried in theme files or updated through esoteric widgets. Some sites require development tools we've never used before. All of this adds time we need to invoice to the customer.

Third-party developers who are more experienced with WordPress than us have also been reluctant to take over someone else's project. Like us, they prefer to build the website themselves from the ground up, using the resources and techniques with which they are most comfortable. We have often witnessed the developers build a completely new site instead.

The ideal situation is to try and maintain a relationship with your website's original developer whenever possible. No one else will understand it as well as they do. If they used a platform like WordPress, Drupal, or similar, we likewise recommend paying them for on-going maintenance to manage patches and updates. The web is a hostile environment and keeping these platforms up-to-date is critical.

That said, we also realize those relationships sometimes need to change. Old web developers move on, become unavailable due to demand, or customers become unhappy with their work and seek someone else.

When asked, Stargate will make a best-effort to assist customers with their third-party-created websites. Per our Creative Service policies, all time — including exploration, reverse-engineering, or learning specific tools — would be considered billable at our regular rates. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee time estimates, nor can we guarantee we'll be able to complete the work requested. However, we will certainly let you know as soon as possible about any challenges we are facing.