Your website is your most important online asset… isn’t it?
For most businesses it’s reasonable to think that it is, but you would be wrong. Your domain name is, because no matter how awesome your site is, without the domain name no one will see it.
You might be screwing your face up now thinking how is this possible seeing as you got your domain name when your web designer built your site… But did you???
You would be surprised just how many domain names out there aren’t actually owned by the business, but rather by their web designer. So technically, this means that you have no control over your own website.You might not realise yet just how big a deal this is but consider this one scenario; if your web designer (and owner of your domain) closes their business, who is going to make sure your domain (and probably website hosting too) is kept active?
If payments aren’t made and it lapses, your website goes down and as the domain and hosting accounts aren’t in your name to rectify this… well you’re in a bit of a pickle!
Have I got you attention? Great, then please keep reading:
When creating a new website, many people will first find themselves a web designer and let them take it from there. One major aspect of creating a new website though is purchasing a domain name and hosting; the importance of which is often grossly underestimated.
If you’re not 100% clear with what the above terms mean, I’ll quickly explain before we delve further:
- A “domain name” is the address by which people visit your website, for example www.yourwebsite.com. You have to purchase it through a domain registrar and pay an annual fee to keep it. Your domain name is just a name, it is not your website;
- For that you will need “web hosting” to attach your domain name to. Your web hosting account is where all the files that create your website are stored and also requires on-going payments to remain active.
It’s similar to when you get a phone number; you’re given a number such as 0458 787 316 (equivalent to your domain name) and then you purchase a monthly phone plan with Telstra or Optus etc. to host that number (equivalent to your web hosting). You have to have both; one doesn’t work without the other.
For most people new to websites, purchasing a domain name and hosting can be a little daunting, so the task is carried out by their web designer, but as such it is often done in their name, not their client’s and the consequences of this aren’t always explained fully or the client may not even be aware.
At Rivmedia we insist that all of our clients manage their own domain name and hosting as we believe it is in their best interests to do so.
Firstly, if you buy something direct rather than through a middle man you will save money which is an obvious advantage, but even more importantly:
- Your domain name is an asset, it has value; it is every much a part of your business as your company name, logo and so on, so why would you want it owned by anyone else?
- With the above in mind, what if you were to sell your business down the track? The website would obviously be included in the sale but if you don’t actually own your website’s domain and/or hosting… Well that’s going to complicate things.
- What happens if your designer closes their business, retires or as sometimes sadly happens, just disappears and never returns your emails or phone calls? How are you going to ensure your domain and hosting stays active?
- Or furthermore, what if you want a redesign of your site but through a different designer, or want to move your hosting elsewhere if you’re unhappy with it or simply found a better deal?
All of the above can, and has happened.
If you aren’t in control of your domain and/or web hosting, moving to new providers becomes that much more complicated if the account isn’t in your name. If we refer back to our phone analogy, imagine trying to call Telstra to change your phone plan when you aren’t the account holder?! Ummm… nightmare!
Unfortunately I have been contacted several times by clients who have found themselves in this very situation and believe me if you can avoid it, you should!
At this point I do want to make very clear that I am not trying to tarnish other designers and I’m not saying that those who purchase your domain and/or hosting are wrong or unprofessional. In the majority of cases they’re just trying to make the process of getting your new website easier.
Regardless, I personally don’t agree with this for the above reasons. In short, by taking ownership yourself you save money and a valuable part of your business is owned by you, not your web designer.
My clients can also have peace of mind knowing that in the future should I happen to move away from web design (I don’t forsee this happening anytime soon but you never know!) they won’t be left in the lurch. They will own and have full control over their domain and hosting so they will not have to go through the frustrating and sometimes costly process of transferring ownership.
For those just starting out:
I strongly urge you to own your domain and hosting from the start, purchasing them is actually much easier than you think, and we’re happy to walk you through it step by step. Afterwards, you can give access to your domain and hosting to whoever you please, such as a web designer to build your site for you but at the end of the day, you will always have ownership and control over them.
For those who already have a website:
If you don’t own your domain and/or hosting, you will have to contact your designer and request that they transfer ownership to you, sometimes administration fees may apply.
In most cases your designer will hopefully oblige but sadly there is the odd few that may hold your domain hostage and you might have to take the matter further with the domain registrar (where the domain was registered).
For your hosting, how you handle this can vary depending on who the hosting is set-up through (your designer’s own hosting, reseller account etc), but in most cases you will have to cancel the hosting you have set up with your designer and create your own account. Transferring the website is a whole other issue and in most cases will require professional assistance, so be prepared that there will be costs involved there too.
I hate ending articles on a negative tone but sadly this is the nature of the situation you could face if you don’t own your domain and/or hosting. So again, my advice is to avoid it to begin with or if you’re already in this situation and would like help, the first article below is very informative or you are welcome to get in touch with me and we can discuss some options.
More Helpful Links
Here are some related articles you might find useful:
- How to Rescue Your Website from the Clutches of a Bad Web Designer or Bad Web Host:
Learn how to move your website without the cooperation of your existing web host or web designer.
- If you want to lose control of your business, let your web designer buy your domain name:
If you let your web designer buy your domain name you have effectively transferred control of your business to them. Many designers will take advantage.
- Don’t Let Your Web Designer Own Your Domain and Accounts:
We’re currently working with two businesses who are suffering because they don’t own their domains; their web designers do. Both are trying to move their websites, but they’ve hit a roadblock because they don’t own their domains. We’ve worked with companies in similar situations many times over the years, and I get angry each time. This problem would be easily avoided…