How do I move to another website developer or agency
Step 1: Find a new web agency who can facilitate the change.

Having a new agency will mean that they can at the very least consult with you on what the best course of action is in your specific case. If you are worried about your existing agency then you don’t have to tell them just yet but the web industry is a small one in Ireland, they will most likely hear through the grapevine if they are an established agency in Ireland.

Burning bridges can be a costly experience as chances are you’ll forget some important components and need to go back to them with some ask and this is going to cost you if the relationship has completely fallen apart.

Step 2: Open communication with your current agency.

There is no replacing honesty and open communication. Yes, you should tell your current agency that you plan to move to a new agency soon. You don’t have to tell them why if you wish to avoid that but it’s important to have open communication.

The vast majority of agencies in Ireland that are bigger than 1-2 staff are going to have multiple clients and there will be a process that they have already established internally. Just stick to your guns and explain that the decision has been made to move.

There will always be a fear that the current agency could try to stick a spanner in the works by somehow damaging or restricting your website but remember, you will have the support of a new agency soon and they can advise if you should seek legal counsel in your specific case if you are unsure.

Thankfully, coercion is something that is somewhat rare from our experience in the sector and we have only ever come across one case where a client had a previous site encrypted by an agency (who happened to be from overseas).

Step 3: Define your current situation. What are your main fears?
  • Are you currently in the process of building a website or any significant website project with your current provider? If yes, then you should consider that your options are to have that work finished by your current provider or by the new provider. A nice middle-ground here is to have your new developers build a clone site of your current site (this should take around a day) and then have your previous developers finish their work there. Then the work can be reviewed and implemented on your live site by your new agency.
  • Are you moving because you no longer trust your current agency? Once the trust is gone, our advice is to move as soon as is possible. The right agency will work hard to keep communication open and reciprocal. Once you get that feeling that you’re not seeing/hearing the full picture then it’s probably time to change providers.
  • Is your current agency the sole controller of access to your server, domain (site URL), email system or any other IT systems? You are going to want to review your contract here and make sure that you are provided with the correct level of access to migrate anything that you have paid to have built.
  • Is your website hosted on a server managed or owned by your current agency? Then you need to consider moving to another server to avoid any long-term issues.
Step 4: Is your website a custom-built website or does it use an open-source content management system such as Wordpress?

You need to consider if a new agency will have the skills to manage and understand your current website. Even if you plan on building a whole new site, it’s going to be an important component in case your relationship breaks down with your current agency.

When tendering for new agencies, it’s a good idea to make sure they have the skills to manage  your current site as well as anything planned for the future.

Step 5: Do you have a contract with your current agency?

You may need to pay out the remainder of any contracts that are already pre-existing if there is no exit clause in place.

Remember, if they have not breached the contract then they may be very upset to see the rug being pulled out from underneath them.

It’s better to have them paid to complete the work instead of trying to save some money and having significant issues while changing to a new agency.

Step 6: Get all required access to your current site.

You might think having access to the admin side of your website is all that you need, but you also need to get access to your domain hosting (the URL), FTP, the website server as well as any third-party systems that your site uses such as back-up hosting, email accounts and social media.

Get a backup of your website database if at all possible and download any reports that you have access to on the backend of your website.

Step 7: Ask your current agency for a full back-up of your current website.

Your current agency may be using their own content management system and say this is not possible. If this is the case then have your new agency make as close a copy to your current live site that they can using an open-source content management system.

Agencies can use their own systems so that you are somewhat “Locked-in” to using their service. This can be an expensive process asking a new agency to effectively rebuild your current site, but it’s the best long-term solution.

Step 8: What to do if you are currently mid-project but very unhappy with the current agency?

Planning is often the no.1 reason a web project fails. If you don’t put in the time at the start to ask all the hard questions such as what the real digital goals are and how you can track their success, then they can often lose focus.

You need to have open communication with your current agency and set it out that from your perspective that the current problems have reached a point where you need to perform an overall evaluation of the project and potential for success.

Tell them that you are bringing in a third-party to review the current state of the project. This new agency needs to identify if the project is something that can be salvaged. Allow the new agency some time to do a thorough investigation. Once you understand the current state then you can begin to establish new goals to get things back on track with the new agency.

It’s important to accept some of the blame yourself. Why did the project hit this wall in the first place? Was it a breakdown in communication? Was it a poorly written or researched brief? Are there too many different stakeholders within your own organisation causing delays?

Unless you are critical of your own part in the project, you can’t begin to establish a new process that will be a success.

Step 9: You need to set a deadline for the change to happen.

Once you’ve completed your full evaluation and picked your new agency, you need to set a deadline for the change to happen. Often this should be broken down into different milestones such as the handing over of different elements to ensure a sooth transition. Again, open communication is going to be your friend here and you need to remember, you might have forgotten something – so try to keep your previous agency somewhat happy with the transition.