Webpages 2: My Friend Made My Site But Now…a Choose Your Own Updating Adventure

So your friend is super awesome and made your site a few years ago. You now have made more art or have new pics or got some great press etc. and want your site to reflect that…but your friend is Living On The Land and no longer does websites or perhaps is cray busy still doing websites and doesn’t have time for your pro bono realness, or changed email addresses or numbers and you can’t get ahold of them.

What do you do when you aren’t the web design mastermind behind your site/blog, you find yourself needing to update it, and your friend who made it for you is MIA or really busy? Read below to see what choices are available to you as you go along. Most importantly, you need to get EITHER the domain or access to the webfiles, the latter of which are the real goal.

Option 1: ACCESS YOUR FILES/GET THE BLOG LOGIN and update the content yourself [or get someone else to do it]

Whether you can get to your domain name or not [see next], it’s the web files or blog pages or CMS [content management system] that you need to actually access in order to update what appears on people’s browser screens when they look at your site.

Either the files are on your server that you pay for, or on the designers’ server, or on the server of a third internet party like a blog host. You need to get access to the server they’re on to update them.

If you can get ahold of the designer you can ask for copies of the files for your site or a server login – or double check if they gave you FTP, server, blog login or copies of the files from the get-go**  Don’t dally once you get this info — just go ahead and log onto the server to get access to your files. If it’s an FTP server, use Cyberduck or another free software to help you navigate. If you get to log onto their server to get these files please be very, very careful and don’t delete anything. Some designers will prefer to send you a copy of your files instead of giving you access to their server.

If you have a blog you can get copies of the files but they are usually in a funky .php format [a major blog negative, plus that it’s a separate project to transfer them over to a new site/blog], or you could just copy and paste the content to a folder on your computer or to your googledocs [something I reccomend doing every few months].

Either way, capture the pages/content, place it on your computer and take a moment to think: “That was easy, look at that list of filenames, pagenames, extentions, and folders!” Now you get to either learn how to update blog pages [easy!], use one of the many free web editing softwares out there.

If your friend can’t give you the files and the site is still up, you can “View Source” to copy the code of each page as it appears online. This won’t work if you have .php or framing on your site, and you also can’t get the CSS [page styling code] but is a decent last-ditch effort if you really don’t have another option. You can either open the pages in a web editing program or just copy and paste the content into new blog pages, and you’ll just have to reformat the links and reupload the images.

Option 2: ACCESS YOUR DOMAIN NAME and direct the domain name to a new site you’re making/one you have access to

If you purchased your domain name [also known as a URL], then you have the login info to the registration account which leads to where mysite.com, ourblog.org, etc. is registered, and then you have quite a bit of power! You can log into the website of the service you registered at and direct your domain name anywhere using the nameservers or the redirect. To the site your friend made which you or they are updating. To a new blog/site you are hosting somewhere else because the old site can’t be updated. To xtube. It’s up to you.

If your friend bought your domain name for you, I do hope they either provided you with a login or you can get ahold of them to get the files [next] or have them redirect. Because without access to the domain name AND the web files or blog login, you are looking at some startover action my friend.

For more info about domain names, you can see my post on the topic. There’s a lot in there.


1. Talk The Designer’s Language. It helps.
When someone is making your site for the first time and storing it on their FTP, you can ask to be a “user” on their “server” and so get your own login and access updates to your site via the server’s WYSIWYG. They might not want to give you access, FYI, but maybe they can section off a parcel of server for you if you’re really special.

2. Keep backups – and a non-online list! – of your logins and passwords
I know this is boring and annoying, but isn’t it MORE boring and annoying to spend days tracking down someone for something you could just have on your computer or desk?

3. *If you are the “friend who makes sites”, please make sure people buy their own URL’s so you never have to redirect namservers or transfer ownership or accidentally forget to renew a URL which ends up costing a client or — way worse — a friendship. It’s happened to the best of us.

4.**Copies of the files and/or FTP logins. Such good ideas! Sometimes hard to remember to ask for but, still!

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