So you have a website, but need a designer or developer to make some changes or customizations to it. (I’m making the assumption you are not using wix.com or anything along those lines, but instead, something like Joomla, Drupal, WordPress, etc.)
TIME AND PAYMENT
Your first step is finding a designer/developer and then working through the changes you need to make to your site and how you would like it to operate. These changes may seem easy; you might think that the updates shouldn’t take long. This may or may not be true. Whatever the case, it’s important to remember any time you have a new designer/developer working on your site, that person will need some time to get up to speed on how your site works or how the requested changes will affect the existing site. This is time you need to plan to pay for before he/she can actually start making the requested changes. On simple sites, this may take very little time, but is still done. In this initial process, the designer will most likely ask a lot of questions. Please understand, he/she is trying to get an understanding of what you already have and gauge the amount of effort needed to complete your request. Expect an estimate from the designer before agreeing to have she/he do work, prepare to pay a percentage upfront before work begins, and make a final payment when work ends. Make sure to thoroughly test and review the changes you had requested before making final payment, but please don’t add new functionality during this review process. If you do, expect that there will be additional costs.
ACCESS / SECURITY
Once terms have been agreed to, the designer/developer will need access to your site. Typically, many people forward whatever access they received from their hosting provider right over to the designer/developer. While the developer/designer is expected to be trustworthy, this isn’t always the best thing to do. Whenever possible, try to create a separate account for the designer/developer and provide them that access instead. This helps provide a layer of accountability, as the system will log what has been done under each account. (If only your account was used, you have no idea what changes were made by the developer or by yourself.) In most cases, a designer/developer only needs backend access to your website (like WordPress, etc.) and an FTP (or preferably SFTP) account. Make sure to give the designer what he/she needs, but don’t turn over all of the keys unless necessary. There are cases where this isn’t doable and again designers/developers should be trustworthy. However, this is a security best practice and is normally fairly simple to do. Once the work has been completed and you no longer need the services of the developer, make sure to disable or remove his/her accounts. You’ll only do this if she/he is not doing any long-term maintenance for you. Again, this helps keep your site secure.
Sometimes working with designers/developers can be challenging as you don’t usually speak the same language, so be open to using multiple communication styles to help get the message across. Be as thorough as possible in your requests and preferences. Also, understand that their questions are so that he/she can help you and are not meant to be rude or insensitive – even though it may come across as being very direct.
Overall, try to remember that ultimately, you need his/her help, and they want to help you. This doesn’t need to be a difficult process. Go into it with a positive attitude. Know what you have to have in your website and what you can live without. You can successfully get what you need and develop a long-term relationship with the designer/developer.