I had to stop in the middle of my busy day to write this. Its as much for cathartic reasons as it is for a general, productive warning to fellow web developers:

Beware of giving your clients full administrative access to their sites

At the end of the day, the customer is always right, right? They’re the boss, right? No. These are cop-out generalizations that excuse us from taking responsibility for our client relationships. Obviously I’m referring to the recent insistence of giving two different clients administrative access to their sites.

I tout the ease of use that my WordPress sites will provide my clients – being able to manage their own blogs effortlessly. I think I may be doing too good of a job at it, as I seemed to have been unable to otherwise convince these clients of the dangers of trying to edit other parts of the site that they aren’t meant to edit. They both seemed sure that I was simply being condescending and protecting my territory. With a final word of warning, I granted them full access. Both of these cases took place roughly 1 week ago.

Last night I did something I usually don’t do – I thoroughly outlined and planned my following day so I would end this week on a hugely productive note. At 7:30 am this morning I anxiously launched my first job – eager to finish the site edits requested before the phone and email tried to pull me in other directions.

BLEWY – SITE BLOWN APART

Yep – home page looking completely Hiroshima-ed. I immediately emailed the clients reps. Of course, no one did anything. I was offered an explanation of how the host must’ve moved something that caused everything to go awry. It was obvious to me that they were experimenting with the templates which caused the custom styles to lose synch, but what good would arguing do? I was also told, “we don’t have FTP access, so there’s no way we could do anything to the code”.

Oh, brother.

Anyway, after spending a considerable amount of time rectifying this and restoring other corrections that were lost, I decided to get back on schedule. I opened up my next client’s site to make his desired changes. You guessed it:

BLEWY – SITE 2 BLOWN APART

Two for two. And I specifically warned this client about not changing anything on the home page, as I custom coded a lot of design elements. This is when I decided to close these sites and come here to blog.

The lesson learned:

I believe in self-responsibility. I have a part in not managing my clients properly. Fellow developers, I strongly suggest that when faced with this situation in the future, you do what I just decided to do: I’m going to have my clients sign a contract releasing me of ALL responsibilities to their site from then on. I will also provide a quote for the minimal amount of time needed to restore their site to its former greatness – with no guarantees that that can actually happen easily and there may be data lost. And it will be headed with the warning that Uncle Ben told Peter Parker before being bitten by that pesky radioactive spider: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.

I realize there’s a good chance that one, or both of these clients will read this.

To that I say, hate to say I told you so… but you just got bitten by the radioactive spider.