I help a lot of small business owners with a variety of projects. One thing that is true with most small businesses is that do not have a full time IT staff member and therefore rely on contractors and vendors for IT advice, especially when it comes to their web site. If you are not careful though, you can quickly find yourself in a bad situation, even when everyone’s intentions were good. Take 5 minutes and find the answer to these three questions.
Do I own my domain?
The Number one mistake I see companies make these days is letting someone else register their domain name for them. No matter how well meaning your web development company is, letting them own this crucial piece is dangerous. Eventually, you will get tot the point where you want to change companies, if they own your domain then at best you have to ask them for the transfer before you can leave, usually tipping them off that you want to leave. The worst case scenario though is that they don’t want to give it up. Yes, you can take it away from them but they can also trash your website in the interim. Don’t get yourself into this situation to begin with. Registering a domain with godaddy.com or enom.com is easy. (If you get stuck, drop me a email, I’m happy to help) If you are not sure the answer to this question, it’s easy to find out, go to http://www.whois.sc/ and enter your domain name. (i.e. calevans.com, NOT www.calevans.com) Once the page comes back, scroll down to the part labeled “Whois Record” and look at the registrant. If it’s anyone other than you and your current address, you need to correct that immediately.
Is the company that designed my website committed to my success or their own?
First, if your answer to this is, “I don’t have a web design company, my next door neighbor’s niece designed my site”, please stop reading now. You have bigger problems than this blog post can solve. Good web sites don’t have to be overly expensive but a professional is always worth the extra expense over an amateur. Don’t turn the success of your company on the web over to someone who does not work 100% on helping companies with their web presence.
On to the point though; yes, every company is committed to their own success but the best web development companies know that their success depends on the success of their clients. Do they contact you with ideas on how to leverage new technologies to your benefit, even if it means that taking their advice isn’t going to make them any money? A good web development company will help a small business leverage the Internet to grow and in doing so, get a higher ROI for their web site. If they haven’t contacted you lately about how to use this new idea or that new concept to help market your site then you really need to move to a company more committed to helping their customers.
Do I own the hosting agreement?
Finally, another critical mistake that companies make, don’t let your web development company decide where your site will be hosted. Most web development companies, especially small ones, farm out their hosting to hosting companies. For the most part, this is fine but the agreement should be in your name not your web development company’s. Part of the logic is the same as for point #1, don’t let your web development company have control over your site. Beyond that however, if the company you chose for development decides to fold up and do something else, you could be stuck with the fact that you don’t know anything about your domain or hosting agreement. This could be disastrous. Make sure that you are the one paying the monthly hosting bills and that you have the login and password for any control panel or ftp accounts. One of the important reasons that you want to own the web hosting account is that if things do go sour between you and your web development company, if you own the hosting account, it’s much harder for them to lock you out or cause any damage. No professional web hosting company would allow anyone other than the account holder to make changes to the account and even if things are changed, since you are the contact, you can call the web host and get things put back together.
That’s it, simple and to the point, just 3 questions you need to ask about your current web development company. If the answer to any of these questions is no, you need to correct that immediately.Until next time,
Tags: webdevelopment, web site, small business, web hosting, advice