has your web designer disappeared

What Should You Do If Your Website Designer or Developer Has Disappeared?

“I can’t get a hold of him! I’ve been calling him and emailing him for weeks!”

Disappearing or unresponsive web designers have been a thing since the earliest days of the Internet.

This is partly because there isn’t a huge barrier to entry into the field of web design. The work can be done anywhere at any time of the day and with very little startup costs. That translates into a form of employment where there isn’t that much skin in the game.

This does not mean all website designers are flighty or irresponsible. It’s just that you’ll find more fly-by-night operations in this field than in pretty much any other.

Where did they go?


This is the first question everyone asks.

Well, there are plenty of reasons. Some of them might be:

  • They got a full-time job.
  • They are having health issues.
  • Perhaps it’s you :). You’re scaring em!

The most important thing to understand once you get into a non-responsive situation with a website designer is the sunk-cost fallacy. You’ll have an urge to keep trying to get a hold of your designer because you’ve already invested time and/or money with them.

If you’re already at a point of frustration, it’s usually best to cut ties and move on. Unprofessional behavior rarely reverts and you’ll end up spending more money and more wasted time with them. It rarely turns out well.

What do you do now?

what now

You might be in the middle of a website build and all of a sudden: radio silence. Or you need to update your home page. Or worse, the site is down! Let’s go over a few steps to help you get through this mess.

1. Read your agreement or contract

This is really important. It may have information related to this issue that will provide you with direction. It may actually have direct contact information listed that will put you in touch with someone immediately.

What if you didn’t sign an agreement or contract?

That’s a good indication that you’re not working with someone that runs a tight ship. All professional businesses should ALWAYS start a project with a signed agreement or contract. Otherwise, there are no agreed upon boundaries, scope, fees, etc. A well-crafted agreement or contract benefits both parties.

Continued radio silence?

If it’s been more than a couple of weeks and you haven’t heard from your designer, then the first thing you should do is check your email to see if they mentioned they were going on vacation or had a family or medical emergency. Sometimes emails slip through the cracks and you can easily miss one of these “heads up” emails.

If there’s no explanation for the radio silence, then the next step is to document that you’ve tried numerous times to reach the person or agency. And after a reasonable amount of time of no communication, you’re free to move on.

2. Download your existing site

If your website is up but not finished or it’s more of a matter than you can’t get inside your site to make the changes you want, then you probably want to download every page of your site so that you have the closest thing to a backup as possible. If you have a recent backup, then you’re in great shape!

Here’s what we recommend to do:

  • Get a sitemap of your site. Use xml-sitemaps.com to download a list of all your web pages. It’s incredibly helpful to know about every web page on your site.
  • Take screenshots of each web page. You can use the Firefox web browser to take full-page screenshots. Save these images in a folder and name it something like “website backup”. You can also use a website downloader (a.k.a site sucker) program or site to download all your website files. You can try webtozip.com.
  • Know about Internet Archive and The Wayback Machine. This is a website that takes screenshots of your website at various times throughout your website’s life. This can come in handy if you need to find older content.

The reason why you’re going to do all this is so that your next designer will have an idea of what you were either working on or what your site looked like. They might also be able to use some of the files when they relaunch your site. It’s just a good idea to collect everything you can before the site goes down or offline.

3. Find a new designer

Finding a new website designer can easily be a 1.5-year-long process 😰. But we’ll try to distill down a recipe to help you find someone reputable within a few days:

  1. Create a spreadsheet called “web designers”. Make columns for name, website, rating, my rating, and notes.
  2. Sign up for an Upwork account. Search for website designers on Upwork. Start listing all the web designers that have 5 stars that you like in your spreadsheet. Look at their portfolio and read their reviews.
  3. Try to find their website. This is key. If they don’t have a website (you can ask them!) then that’s a red flag. Anyone can make a fake portfolio, but a ripped-off website is way harder to pull off.
  4. Be sure to rate each designer between 1 and 5 (with 5 being best). Start talking to these designers and pick one to work with.

website designer rating template

Another option is to ask us!

We know a lot of website designers and developers. You can always ask us for a recommendation.

We’ve also launched a new way to have a website built that’s much cheaper and more flexible than the traditional website-building process. This method is great for small businesses, solopreneurs, or organizations that are just starting up. Use the form below if you’d like help with any of these options.

A few more tips when looking for a website designer or developer

1. Strange, awkward or poor communication

Right off the bat, if you feel that your communication with your future website designer or developer seems strange or odd, that’s probably a good warning sign.

It’s true that web designers and web developers may be nerdy or awkward people, but the best ones will have excellent communication skills.

90% of disappointment in this business is due to poor communication and poorly explained expectations.

Designers and developers who have built good businesses know this and have improved their processes over the years.

2. Avoid having your website designer be your web hosting provider

This warning comes from years of experience!

A lot of people who build websites for other people and businesses will also provide the web hosting services for their clients. That means they will charge their clients a monthly fee to host their website on a website server. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, except that we’ve seen many cases where this becomes a huge problem.

For the website designer or developer, offering web hosting is an easy upsell that builds recurring revenue for their business. Our main problem with this is if the designer or developer is a one-person business. Because what happens if the designer or developer:

  • Stops returning phone calls?
  • Becomes disabled or dies?
  • Goes to jail?!

We’ve come across all of these scenarios at one point in our history of working with our clients. We hear from them about these horror stories and no one can gain access to their website.

Your website designer or developer can always host your website at a major web hosting provider that you choose. Here are some common web hosts (we do not endorse any of these, this is just for example purposes):

That way you are the owner of your account and no matter what happens to your designer or developer, you will always be able to get into that account. This is very important.

3. Offshore Website Designers & Developers

There’s nothing wrong with using a website designer or developer who lives overseas or outside the United States.

There is a myth that the price will be cheaper. 20 years ago that was usually the case, but in 2024 website creation price disparity seems to be a thing of the past.

The best designers will charge premium prices regardless of where they reside.

Here’s why you may want to choose a local designer:

  • Timezone – Again, communication is incredibly important so you’ll want to be able to chat with your designer or developer from time to time. If they are literally halfway around the world, this can become incredibly challenging.
  • Payment Ease – Sometimes when it comes time to pay your offshore designer or developer, you’ll have to jump through a lot of hoops to send money to them. This wastes your time and can be frustrating. Some countries are more difficult to send money to than others.
  • Legal – God forbid you need to go to court or deal with copyright issues, you’re basically out of luck if the designer or developer is outside the U.S.

Feel Free To Reach Out To Us!

We’re here to help you get through this if you need some help. Use the form in the middle of the page to contact us.

Image Credits: Featured Image, Map, What Now

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