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  1. Dancin with the devil
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    Owning Source Code & FTP Access


    I'm not totally familiar with web design and rights to the design and/or source code and was wondering what industry standard is? If I have a website designed, does the firm retain ownership rights to the code or do I get it? Do I have to pay a fee to gain ownership to it? If yes, what is the typical fee? Do you give FTP access to the client? For those of you who design sites, what is your standard practice?

    SEO's like to get access to the FTP so they can do the work. I presume it's because they either don't want to give up their information/tricks or its just easier to do it themselves and not add a middle person to the mix or something I'm ignorant to haha I have been involved in one instance where the design firm asked for 3 times the cost of the design in order to have access. I dont know if it was a standard industry procedure or a way to keep cash flow from the client but the client said no.

    Just looking to see if there is a standard, what the clients "rights" are (if any) and how other design firms handle this part of a contract/agreement.
    "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Chinese Proverb
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  3. SEO Consultant
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    All I can tell you is MY (which follows the standard) terms of service regarding copyrights and ownership.

    I own the work until the client pays completely. This means final payment processed. Upon then, I transfer ownership to client.

    If you paid for a web design, it's approved and you and the firm are happy, you SHOULD have rights and ownership of all files, designs, pictures and elements.
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  5. Dancin with the devil
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    Thanks for the response Josh. If it is not too personal of a question with regards to SEO, do you require the FTP info and source code before working with a client? It seems to me a designer would hold onto this information as they don't want to lose the work but maybe I'm looking at this with too much of a conspiracy theorist approach.

    I'm not savvy enough to mess with code outside of the basics for SEO so I never thought about asking for such information from an SEO perspective. I have had people ask me why an SEO firm was asking for FTP and source code info but never knew why other than to make the changes themselves.

    Anyone else care to chime in?
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    Well, I'd like FTP and CMS logins (strictly SEO) for onpage SEO corrections. It's nothing related to property or ownership, simply to modify files, update sitemaps, upload compressed files, etc.

    After I develop a site (web design) I always keep a local backup of the 'signed off' version on my severs. In case clients site goes down, gets hacked or some how loses or ruins work.

    It's common. First target of mine is onpage SEO and corrections, there's no way to do this without FTP OR CMS Admin logins.
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  9. Dancin with the devil
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    That sounds reasonable to me as well. Now you being the designer and the SEO asks your client for the FTP info, do you hand over the information prior to full payment or not until payment clears as you mentioned above? I realize FTP & CMS info is different then source files but wondering if you treat them the same.

    Thanks again for your time and sharing your model.
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    No, I wait until payment is fully processed. Moreover, I create a NEW login that can be disabled at any time.

    Eg, if I were to hire an SEO for my client I would make ALL NEW logins for the SEO

    FTP: seo-user
    pass: temppass

    CMS Login: seo-user
    etc.

    FTP is source files - all your source files are within your server which is accessed via FTP.
    CMS logins are needed if you're using WordPress/Joomla/etc.

    The FTP logins can access the source files; however, with CMS's much of the content is on the actual database, NOT the FTP, so a CMS login would be needed as well to modify actual pages, titles, meta data, etc.

    Hope that didn't confuse you.
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  13. Dancin with the devil
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    I'm glad I asked this question because I thought I understood more then I do and I am not confused. I do understand the difference between CMS and FTP but never knew how it was handled from the design firm side. I also did not know there could be a separate login created for FTP access. I thought there was only one. I don't know how comfortable I'd feel about giving an SEO the keys to my website but I guess it all goes along with trust. Any work that I've done, I've relayed through the client to their designers.

    Thanks for the additional clarity.
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    You're welcome. If you're that nervous what you /could/ do is download your FTP and share the downloaded files with the SEO. Then, they could modify the files locally, you approve an you upload back - voiding their need for your logins.

    I've actually done that before.

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