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You’re a business owner. You know that in order to maximize your exposure and revenue streams, you should have a company website. You go out and find a web design company to help create your website, or you go to an “all-in-one” web design and hosting service website. You pay to have the site created, and once you receive it, you continue to pay monthly or periodic fees for your site to be hosted and for the domain registration. Since you pay all of the bills, and the website is an extension of your company, you must own it, right? Wrong. Many business owners mistakenly believe that they own their website, when in reality they have very little control over its fate.
So who actually owns the website? In most cases, that design firm or site building service you first reached out to has managed to gain ownership of the site. How? When they originally build the site, most companies register the site domain on behalf of their client. However, in this registration process, the firm lists themselves as the Registrant or owner of the site instead of the client. This can have long lasting impact on your business; in effect, the firm can hold your site hostage to ensure that you continue to use their services. Threaten to move to a different agency or service, and they can even take your website down.
And it’s not just the domain registration that business owners need in order to take control of their own website. After the initial domain registration, the Registrant creates a username and password that is needed in order to make changes to the site. Without those credentials, you cannot access the CS upon which your site runs. Once again, if your service set these safeguards up and did not share them with you, you are at their mercy.
So what do you do if you realize that you aren’t the actual domain Registrant and owner of your website? If you’re on good terms with your current agency or service, it can as simple as asking them to make you a Registrant as well. And if the relationship has headed south, there are still ways you can gain control over your website again. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the organization that oversees domain registration, has created a “Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy” for these types of cases. Under the policy, companies that own a domain name that is completely unrelated to its core business (like a web design firm that owns a domain name for a jewelry store) have a much harder time maintaining a claim on these names.
Of course, the best way to avoid a situation like this is to either register the domain name yourself, or to work closely with your agency and ensure that you are the Registrant on record. Here at inSegment, not only do we provide superior web design and development expertise and experience, but we seek to educate and inform our clients throughout every step of the process. We seek to empower our clients, not enslave them. Can you say the same of your design firm or website building service?