You wouldn’t register your DBA or LLC entity in your accountant’s or lawyer’s name .. so why, oh why, do so many businesses allow their webdesigner own their domain name?
Just a few weeks ago I had to inform one of my associates that the website she was working on, was not registered to the rightful owner, and wasn’t even hosted where she thought it was.
If you are confused about the difference between domain names and hosting, here is a quick explanation: Your domain name is your online identity and the name of your site (eg. webenso.com). “Hosting” means you are renting space for your website from a hosting company, when your browser, whether it is Firefox or Internet Explorer, accesses your website, their servers “serve” up your website pages, similar to a waiter serving you your soup.
It is possible that domain is registered with a different company than your hosting provider, which means there are two separate accounts you need to have access to … and they both should have your name as owner – not your webdesigner’s name.
For both domain names and hosting accounts, there is usually a way to specify a “technical contact”. It is perfectly fine to have your webdesigner listed as a the technical contact .. but he or she should never be listed as the owner.
You not only should have the domain name registered in your name but also you should have all the account information (username and password) for:
- Your hosting account
- The account where your domain is registered (if different)
- Your admin panel if you are using a CMS (for example your admin login for wordpress)
Make sure also you have the URL you go to enter your username and password. If you don’t know whether you are hosted with godaddy or bluehost, the account details will not be that useful.
I had to work with a client whose webdesigner died and left me a forensic exercise to hack into his admin panel and database. Don’t let this happen to you!
If you do not own your domain name you may not able renew it (so your site goes dark with a domain name expiration). You will not be able to point it to a new website.
If you are interviewing a webdesigner, ask them questions about the website domain registration and registration. Be suspicious if they tell you they have to host your site on their “special” servers and set up the domain for you. Most simple business websites don’t need anything special and a hosting provider like bluehost.com provides all the tools (and more) needed.
I do register domains for my clients as some of them just don’t want to face the “technical challenge”, but I always do it in their name and set it up to bill their credit card.
If you are not sure who owns your domain, try a whois lookup.