At some point in the life of most websites comes the difficult task of deciding that your current web designer is no longer providing you with everything you need, and its time to try a new supplier. This can be a very difficult decision to make, but having made it, you want to make sure the transition goes smoothly.
There are three major issues you will need to keep in mind in working with a new supplier:
– Domain Ownership. Do you own your domain? While you have a legal entitlement to a trademark for your company, it is so much easier if the domain has been bought correctly in the first place. Go to (or the whois functionality of any domain registrar!) and enter your domain name. Check that the results DO NOT show your previous supplier as the admin contact. The admin contact is the owner of the domain. If your previous supplier is also the Administrative contact, then effectively they own your domain. You have a problem that needs fixing, as your new supplier may not be able to make some necessary changes to your domain. You will need to contact the registrar (they are listed in the WHOIS results that you got with the above information) to have it changed. Your new supplier should be able to help you with this. You will want to make your new supplier the technical contact.

– Hosting. If you were hosting with your previous supplier then it would probably be wise to move to a new provider, just to ensure nothing ‘accidently goes wrong’. It might even be necessary – if your previous supplier was using a shared account, they may not be able to give your new supplier access. Again, your new supplier should be able to assist you with this.

– Copyright. If your contract with the previous designer (you had a contract, right?) didn’t specify a transfer of copyright then you may find that you cannot have your new supplier work on the same design. You will still own and be able to reuse content and graphics which you supplied to the previous supplier, but any work they did needs to have its copyright attributed to you. Otherwise your new designer may have to start from scratch.

All of the above assumes a less than cordial breakup with the previous supplier, which, sadly, happens far too often. If you are leaving your previous supplier on good terms then possibly you don’t need to worry about the above.