Breaking Up with Your Web Developer

How to Break Up with Your Web Developer

All professional relationships are two-way streets, and if one party suddenly feels they aren’t getting what they need out of the relationship, it’s time to move on.

The client-developer relationship is no exception. Some developers strive to build long-lasting relationships, and others enjoy the thrill of the initial project but have little interest in providing ongoing services. The key is to find the right person that fits your business needs.

Signs it’s Time to Move On

  • Developer/designer doesn’t respond to your requests in a timely manner
  • Developer/designer gives you the impression that your work is no longer a priority
  • Quality of work has gone downhill
  • Tasks that are supposed to be done on a routine basis are no longer being done, but are being charged for
  • Developer has let the site fall out of date

HEADS UP: It is not uncommon for vindictive developers to knowingly withhold or limit access to your site making it difficult for you to move on without them.  One of the most common scenarios is to still allow full access, but to strip out the easy to use back end page builders leaving you with a confusing, garbled mess that’s nearly impossible to edit going forward.

How to Safely Switch Web Developers

Before you move forward with the official termination of services from your designer/developer, it is highly recommended that you have all your ducks in a row to ensure you are still able to access, edit, and OWN your website after the breakup.  As such, there are a few questions you need to find the answers to prior to notifying your developer you’d like to part ways:

Your Domain

  • Where is my domain registered?
  • Do I own my domain?
  • What is the account information?

If you do not own your domain, you MUST request the domain be transferred into your name immediately. Always, always, ALWAYS own and manage your own domain.

Your Website Hosting

  • Where is my site hosted?
  • Do I own my hosting account?
  • Will I have access to the hosting account after I terminate this relationship?
  • If not, what is my Plan B for hosting?

If you don’t own your hosting account and plan on leaving, it’s time to start looking into signing up for one on your own. There are many different plans to choose from, and one size does not fit all. Be sure to do your research or ask a trusted professional for a recommendation.

For our small and medium-sized business clients, we typically recommend SiteGround.

Your Website

  • What is my login information to the website?
  • Do I have full admin privileges?
  • Have any components been removed?
  • Have I subscribed to any service that will unknowingly be terminated when this relationship ends?
  • Do I have a recent backup of all components of the site?

Hopefully, you already have a backup solution in place and have access to those backups, but getting your own backup just prior to breakup is never a bad idea. If you don’t know how to do this yourself, it would likely be worth paying someone to help you do this.

PRO TIP: Start documenting everything and review your contract to know specifically what you’ve agreed to prior to parting ways and take screen shots of your back end prior to terminating your relationship.

When All Your Ducks are in a Row and You’re Ready to Move on From Your Developer

Prepare a formal request to your developer in writing to be provided with:

  • All license keys for plugins, themes, and purchased images
  • Documentation of all passwords
  • Documentation for where your site is hosted, where your domain is registered, and all account credentials. If your developer is managing, or owns, your hosting account you’ll need to decide if you wish to continue under their management or go elsewhere. Make this decision PRIOR to the breakup to ensure there is no loss of uptime.

In the letter, clearly request the following:

  • Appropriate FULL admin level user permissions to your website with NO RESTRICTIONS including full editing capability and theme privileges including any built in page builders (specifically asking for this alerts your developer to the fact that you will be on the lookout for this and reduces the likelihood of this shenanigan going down)
  • Transfer of third party account access such as Google Analytics, Google Adwords, Webmaster tools, Facebook accounts, etc… back in your name (if they aren’t already)
  • Training on how to make edits on your own (likely there will be a small fee for this, but if you plan on making changes to your website yourself, it is highly recommended.)


Post-Breakup:  It’s Time to Change the Locks

Regardless of whether or not you’ve parted ways on good terms, now is the perfect time to change the passwords… to everything.


  • Domain registry account
  • Hosting account & webmaster account access
  • cPanel access & FTP accounts (Don’t forget the FTP accounts!!)
  • Website Login (and remove any unnecessary user accounts)
  • Website Database
  • Third party accounts (be sure access has been transferred first!)
  • If your developer had access to your email setups, change those too.

When It’s Time to Move On

Breaking up with your developer doesn’t have to end badly. There are plenty of amicable reasons to move on. Remember to be courteous, but informed, and you will increase the likelihood of a smooth transition.

If you require assistance in your transition or just have a question, drop us a note or give us a call. We’re happy to help!



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Jessica Dohm

Jessica Dohm

Founder, Dohmain Designs

About the Author

Jessica is the Director of Digital Marketing and Owner of Dohmain Designs. She is a small business sales and marketing expert specializing in business growth through intelligent website design and sales & marketing automation.

Jessica is a Certified Infusionsoft Partner, marketing automation and CRM expert with 20 years of professional sales and marketing experience. In 2011, she combined that experience with innovative website design and created Dohmain Designs. She has worked with biotech giants, overseen the digital marketing for a popular Discovery Channel hit TV series, worked with internationally known influencers, and helped hundreds of clients grow their business. Prior to creating Dohmain Designs, Jessica worked in the fast-paced biotech sector focusing primarily on technical sales and marketing, as well as providing complicated sales-focused CRM training across various disciplines.

Jessica is a member of her local Rotary Club where she has previously served as the Membership and Public Relations chairs and currently serves as the 2020-2021 President-elect. Jessica truly believes in the "Service Above Self" Rotarian philosophy and strives to dedicate her time and talents to helping others, both in her personal and professional relationships.

She is located in the Minneapolis / St. Paul area and works with clients all across North America. If you'd like to get in touch with Jessica, simply complete the contact form below.

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