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Tech Savvy: Maintain Control of Your Domain

 

In this article I want to focus on something that is often forgotten by businesses but is critical to their identity. What I am referring to is your internet domain name. For many businesses your website and email are tied to this name so it is critical that you (the business owner) understand what a domain name is and how to maintain control of it. I see 2-3 cases every year where a business has lost control of their domain and it has wreaked havoc on their company.

First let’s talk a bit about how domain names work. Nijemtech.com is my company domain name. It is registered with an international organization that ensures that no one else in the world can get that same name. This domain registration must be renewed every few years and it will expire if it is not renewed. A domain name makes it easy for people to find your or your company on the internet. When you type www.nijemtech.com in to your web browser, your computer asks your DNS (Domain Name Server) for the IP address for www.nijemtech.com. The IP address is a special number that allows computers to “find” one another across the Internet. Without domain names, we would have to remember all these strange numbers like 232.43.156.12 to get to a web site on the internet!

OK, so now that you know a little bit about domain names, let’s talk about maintaining control of it. Here’s what I frequently see happening when a customer loses control of their domain. At some point in the past a business decides (smartly) to register a domain name for the company or they decide that they want a web site for the business. They pay to have a website built for their company. Part of the process for developing a web site involves registering and domain name for the business. Usually the web developer will register the company’s new domain name and then they build and launch the web site. The company will pay a fee for the web site development and then some sort of annual/monthly fee for web hosting and domain hosting (these are two different things). The web developer effectively has control of the company’s domain name and the company really has no idea regarding how to access the domain registration information or the web server etc. Initially this does not present a problem. The company is happy, the web developer is happy and it is business as usual. A year or two down the road, perhaps the web developer no longer wants to be in the web development business. Or maybe they stop doing freelance work and move to work full time with a large company. Or perhaps the company wants to refresh their web site but wants to use a different web development person/company for the redesign. Everyone one of these examples is based on a real-world example that I have experienced in the last few years. You domain is critical to your business, your identity and your brand. You MUST NOT cede control of it to a 3rd party.

This does not mean you cannot out-source work to a web developer or other technology specialist. What is DOES mean is that you should have the login information for the Domain Registry service/Web Hosting service where your domain “lives”. This way you can grant your web developer access to your domain, but you still retain control. Contrast this scenario with what I commonly see where an outside contractor created your domain, registered your domain (using their contact information) and knows all of the administrative login information for your domain (and you don’t know this information). Some web developers will push back if you ask them to register the domain using your account vs. theirs because it is easier for them to have all of the domains they work on tied to their one account. The reality is that you are paying them to do a job, and they should do it according to your wishes. Maintaining control of your domain MUST be insisted upon when you work with a web developer or other technology specialist.

If you don't have a domain and would like to get one, simply go to Godaddy.com and create an account and register your domain. This is a good idea even if you have no plans to build a website right now. More than likely you will want a web presence in the future and if you wait to register your domain you may find it has already been taken. Also, once you have a domain, you can simply use it for email services. It looks professional to have an email address like This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it vs This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . The first step is getting that domain registered. Annual fees for domain hosting are usually less than $20/year(excluding web hosting) so there is no reason NOT to do it. If you have a domain, but you don’t know where it’s hosted or how to login and administer it then you need to get in touch with the person who currently has this information and get that domain transferred over to an account that you control.

If this sounds like a problem your business faces but you are not quite sure how to fix it, you can always call us at NijemTech (229) 269-4151.