Client Checklist of Intellectual Property Items

Inspired by this Digital Nomads posting:

6 Tips For A Smooth Website Handover

One last point. If you do find yourself sacked by a client for whatever reason, try to play the bigger person and assist the new web developers where you can (don’t go out of your way to help them but give them what they need).

This makes a good point.  Many developers I’ve worked with just get the job done, without respect for other things the client needs.  I’m currently taking over a project where the previous developer was “let go”.  I am in dire need of important information to do the job efficiently and effectively.

And consider supplying a handover check list to the client which lists the information that is required to manage/administer the site.

Your clients are your best advertisers.  The way you treat them is a testament to the quality of your work and to your work ethics.  Even in the best of times, clients decide to change contractors.  Nevertheless, every client should be provided with a checklist of intellectual property items.  Although some things need to shared with the developer, this intellectual property belongs to the client.

The Client is King

The client is the king, and is the only one who should hold the keys to the kingdom.  The most important things the client should have are service provider contact information, account names, and passwords. Even so, there is other information the client should have that will help them move on to another developer, if they find it necessary.

Domain Name

In some cases, the client already owns a domain name.  If they do not, then the client should be guided through the process of creating an account with a registrar, and purchasing the domain name.  Any FTP user name and password that the developer may need should also be created by the client, and you should explain in simple terms what security rights you will need to do your job.  For anyone who doesn’t have a domain name, and would like to do a partial search, I recommend  Most domain name look up services will buy the name out from under you if you don’t buy it right away.  With psychicwhois, you can type in the first few (or more) letters until you see that what you want is NOT taken.  Play with it some time and you’ll see what I mean.


Choosing a web host is beyond the scope of this article, but this should be handled in the same way as the domain name purchase. The client should be involved in the entire account creation process.


Once again, there are many different database engines from which to choose, and each has its own user name, password, and host. The database usually doesn’t even reside on the same server as the web site itself, so it’s imperative that the database location, type, and account information be provided to the client at the time of creation.  The client needs to know not only the admin credentials, but also the credentials used by the web application itself.  I recommend two user/passwords for web applications; one had read only privileges, and the other has full read/write/create/drop table priviledges.


Whether the developer uses Classic ASP, ASP.NET, Ruby, PHP, Python, or Perl, this information should be stated clearly to the client. This will be essential if/when the project is passed on to another developer. If the developer is using a Content Management System (CMS), then the client should be provided with contact information for the company or support group.

Job Posting

Yes, I said job posting.  If your client decides to find another developer, help them specify the requirements that the new developer should meet:

Web site developer needed.  Extensive experience with MySQL, PHP, Javascript, HTML(5), and CSS2 required.

That’s simple, eh?

It’s a little bit me; it’s a little bit you

Now it’s their turn.  When the project is completed, or, if there is an amicable separation between you and the client, then ask them for a letter of reference.  Most satisfied clients are happy to write one, and it’s just one more thing to put into your portfolio.

If you have any other suggestions for this check list, stuff them right into the comment box below.  Thanks


Nick Russell

Some very good points. I particularly like your comment on job posting; maintaining good relationships with clients is vital so anything you can do to stand out is positive.

I would add one more point, transferring any third party website login details to the client. By this I mean Google Analytics and Adwords accounts, Facebook admin rights, Twitter passwords etc.


Good point, Nick. Actually, I had thought about that, but decided that the social networking and advertising accounts are usually set up by the company personnel itself, and any IP problems they might have with respect to these issues is a management problem. I left it out for that reason.


Really useful article. I’ll link it to Nicks post, the 2 go well together. Every developer should promote this on their website and it should be included in the SLA.

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