A Layman's Guide to Working With a Website Developer


Once you have selected a developer or development company to rebuild your unit's website, you'll need to give them access to your existing website and in many cases a development workspace.  The information below will help guide you through this process.  Note: if you are using a student developer or hiring a tech temp, then you can skip the parts about setting up a GT Account Username, as these individuals will have their own GT Account username.  Simply have them tell you what their GT Account username is and follow the instructions for adding it to the appropriate web hosting services and accounts.

Development Space

Your selected development company is going to need access to your existing website as well as to a space in which to develop your new website.

While some developers may prefer to do most of their work in their own development environment, we highly recommend having them test their work in a Georgia Tech web hosting space that is as similar to your existing hosting space as possible.  This will avoid unnecessary downtime when it comes time to put the new website into place.

If your website is on OIT Web Hosting, then we recommend that you put in a request to OIT to create a second Web Hosting account on the same server, configured the same way.  You can then have your developer load their work into that second account and test it there to make sure it will work on OIT's systems.  Once they have confirmed that everything is working, you can then tackle the final steps for replacing the old site with the new one.

If your website is on Sites @ Georgia Tech, you can and should request an new site in which to allow the development company to do their building work.  Unlike with other content management systems, with Sites @ Georgia Tech the developers will have to do their development directly on Sites @ Georgia Tech, as it is not practical to try to build the site somewhere else and then copy it to Sites @ Georgia Tech.  Once the new site is ready to launch, you can work with OIT to repoint your current website domain name to the new site.

Access to the Current and New Web Hosting Spaces

If your current website is on any web hosting service managed by OIT, then at a minimum, your development company will need a guest GT Account Username to access the OIT Web Hosting control panels for your hosting accounts (the current account and the account for testing the new website). You can use PASSPORT to create this guest user account, which could be shared among individual developers working on your project. If you have questions about creating this account, please see your local IT support staff.

OIT Web Hosting

If your current website is on OIT Web Hosting then there are several factors to consider in providing access to your developer.

Once you have set up a GT Account Username for your development company, you will need to give it access to your sites Plesk Control Panels.  Instructions are available for adding new administrators - please be sure to only add your developer's account as an 'administrator' and not as an 'owner'.  Be sure to give the account access to both the original hosting site and the new site that you create for testing purposes.

The developers may wish to use a service called SSH to upload their files to either OIT Web Hosting account.  If anyone in your unit is using this service with your current website, then you will need to coordinate with that person, as there is a single SSH password for the account.  It is possible to use a token called an SSH key in lieu of the password.   If your developer asks you to add their SSH key to one or both hosting accounts, you can refer to our instructions for managing SSH Key access to your hosting account.

If your existing website is in a content management system (Drupal, WordPress, etc.) then you'll want to give the developers access to the content system itself.  This is a separate process from giving access to the web hosting account.

  • For Drupal, log into the site as a user with administrator privileges, then navigate to People -> Add CAS User on the black administrative toolbar.
  • For Wordpress, Instructions are available for adding users to WordPress sites.
  • For other content systems, please consult the documentation for that particular system.

Finally, to access Plesk Control Panels or to access a hosting account via SSH, the developers will need VPN access.  This comes automatically with any GT Account Username, but you should direct the developers to OIT's VPN instructions for using the campus VPN and installing the appropriate VPN client.

Sites @ Georgia Tech WordPress Hosting

If your current site is on Sites @ Georgia Tech and your updated site is going to remain on Sites @ Georgia Tech, then setting up your development company is a little easier.

Once you have set up a GT Account Username for your development company, you will need to give it access to your WordPress site.  Log into Sites @ Georgia Tech, navigate into the administrative interface for the site in question, and go to the Users option.  From there, add the GT Account Username that you created and make it an Administrator.

That's it!  Accessing Sites @ Georgia Tech does not require any further configuration, and does not require use of the VPN either.

Cleaning Up After Development is Complete

Once your contract with your development company is complete and all deliverables are delivered, you need to make sure their access to your websites is turned off.   A few key places to check and review:

  1. Review the SSH Keys for the hosting account and delete any that belong to your developers.

  2. Log into your website and check the website content management system user list.  Delete or disable any accounts associated with your development company.

  3. Log into PASSPORT and disable the developer's Guest User Account.  (Note: the person who created the guest user account must do this.  If that person is no longer available, contact your local IT support for assistance.