Whose domain name is it? Make your webmaster hand over those keys!

I don’t care how web savvy you are or what your arrangement is with your web developer or internet tech person, I need you to DEMAND that your web hosting and your domain name are COMPLETELY in your name and YOU are the primary contact.

Let this be an absolute ultimatum to anybody working in the web industry: If you do not make sure your client has everything in their name, you are a scoundrel and need to be expunged from the web industry.

Yes, I am a little agitated this week because I have just had to rescue yet another new client from the clutches of a web design operator who had put my new client’s domain name under his own ABN.

At best this is lazy, at worst it is disgraceful.

So here are a couple of things I must challenge you to do this week if you have a website and/or domain name.

Who’d let their builder keep their house keys after the build?

The world of web development is a foreign to many but at its foundation it is just about creating a foundation (domain name and hosting) and building a site there.

While I admit that SOMETIMES it is expedient for web developers to buy domains and pay for hosting on behalf of their clients and temporarily have these services in their names during the build, it should only be TEMPORARY.

It is a major business risk if you:

  • Are not listed as THE registrant for your domain name
  • Do not have direct, Administrator access to your own website

When you lack these two keys, it means somebody else has ultimate control over your online presence.

In the scenario I alluded to earlier, we had to rely on the goodwill and the availability of her former webmaster to approve transferring my client’s own domain back to her, over a weekend.

The time lags involved were frustrating but there was nothing we could do to expedite matters because the old webmaster was the rightful and legal owner of this fundamental aspect of my client’s business; her domain name.

Please, never let yourself get in this situation, ever.

How and when to reclaim your rightful ownership

Firstly, the ‘when’ is now.

But before you go trampling down your web person’s front door, you can do a simple test to see who the official domain owner is.

  1. Go to https://www.whois.com.au/whois/ and type in your domain name without any https or slashes, eg, bakermarketingservices.com
  2. Click Lookup
  3. If your domain ends in a .au, on the next page you will need to scroll down a little and type in the captcha code to prove you are human and hit submit OR if your domain ends in a .com or .net, etc, just scroll down the page a little
  4. Scroll down the page to find Domain Name, Registrant Name and Registrant Contact Email. These should be YOU. If not, see below.

Hopefully, you will see that you are the key person but if you are not, kindly ask the person listed as the registrant to update the details to your own.

NOTE: Sometimes, ownership was with your developer for some expedient reasons and it is only fair that you pay them for 15-20 minutes of their time for logging in and updating things for you.

However, if your web person refuses or wants to charge a fortune, contact Baker Marketing and one of us will work with you to ensure things get sorted out for you.

It is also worth noting that changing the Registrant can make you liable for a Change Of Ownership charge of about $150, but that is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

And, in an ideal world, your web developer would be following the Baker Marketing protocol of creating a Cheat Sheet of all your various log ins in one place. I’d ask your web developer for that while you’re at it.

Next week, my blood pressure will be back to normal, we can breathe, and we can continue finding ways to use WordPress to creatively shape your brand and connect with clients and customers.

Photo by Nick Aaoscato on Flickr (CC by 2.0)