Who owns your website domain?

You’d be surprised to learn that most people don’t even think about this question. It is the common assumption that the (unsuspecting) business owner who hires a website designer to create a new website and secure website hosting would be the actual owner of the website domain. This where things get a little confusing.

If you are a new business owner or startup and you are relying on the assistance of your website designer/developer to help you secure the new domain, you must make sure your new domain (and subsequently your website hosting) is registered to you. Plain and simple.

What does this mean?

To give you some perspective, I’ll tell you what I recently helped clean up.

A new client approached me and asked if I could help fix her website. As per usual, I needed to take a look at the site’s back-end to see exactly what the issue is. Upon requesting login information for the website dashboard, ftp access and cPanel (ie: control panel) access, I quickly discovered that we had some problems. Aside from the WordPress website dashboard, the client didn’t have access to login to the web host’s cPanel and this was because the site was not hosted in the client’s name.

I quickly searched the public WhoIs ICANN records for the domain to find out exactly who the domain was registered to and where the website was hosted. The person who previously managed the website owned it all. Everything was in her name, not the client.

Wait, WHAT?!?! Why would someone register another the domain of another business in their own name? Honestly, I have asked myself this question many times and I still can’t come up with an ethical or justifiable reason.

This can be confusing to some people because they don’t understand all these terms and it is hard to grasp for others because this is thought to be very unethical and unprofessional business practices to many web designers.

Unless the website designer owns the business for which they are registering a domain & securing website hosting, they have absolutely no business registering the domain in their own name.

Here’s why all of this is so important

I was asked to help and potentially hired to fix or redo a website for this client. However, my hands were tied when it came to helping this client because I couldn’t even move their website to a new host. They didn’t own it. Technically it didn’t even belong to them even though it had their business name on it.

Without account ownership access to the domain, I had ZERO control and unfortunately, there’s literally nothing I can do without login access. Why? Many times, in order to fix a website, I need to get into the cPanel to gain access to the database area to see if there’s an issue there. Or login via ftp to look at the actual website coded files and see how something might need to be edited which could fix the problem the client is having. Of course often times it’s not that simple, but at the very least, these are the first steps that need to be taken.

More importantly: in this most recent situation, the previous website manager was neither helpful or cooperative in transferring the domain to my client. It took several phone calls, emails & text message requests before we were finally able to get results. Many of those messages were met with denial, refusal to help and hair pulling frustration.

This is all completely and totally avoidable

By making sure you have a domain that is legally registered to you, the business owner, and that your website hosting is also owned by you. You should always have login credentials for your domain and hosting.

If things were set up ethically and properly, I would have been able to look into the website issues within 1 hour and reported back with what was causing the site issues.

If you’re having issues with your website and would like to get a jump-start getting it fixed, you can sign-up for our Website Audit & Review Service today!

Still Unsure?

No worries. You might still be perplexed by all of this and have questions before signing up. We get it. Go ahead and use the following quick consultation form, let us know how we can help you and we’ll get you fixed up in no time! We look forward to hearing from you.

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