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Who “Owns” Your Website?

Something we see a lot is store owners without access to their own Website.  They hire a person or company to register a domain name, setup a Web Host and design a Website.  All is fine and dandy until one day, an update needs to be made to the site.  All of a sudden, the person with all of the information – e.g. user names, passwords, etc. – is nowhere to be found.  Or even worse, the person who did this work for you is “holding your site hostage” until you give he/she something.

Ok, let’s spend a few moments on some of the puzzle pieces I mentioned above.

Domain – Your domain name is where it all starts.  This is the name you spent hours deciding on.  You thought long and hard before selecting the perfect domain name.  One that’s not too difficult to say (so when you tell your customers, they don’t have to ask you to repeat it).  The domain name is what people are going to type into their Internet browser to get to your Website.  For example, to get here, you typed www.thecomputerpeeps.com and hit ‘Enter’ on your keyboard.  Voila!  By the magic of the Interwebz, something told your computer where to find our Website.

Website – This is what people actually see after they type in your domain name.  Your Website is what you paid someone to design, with text, pictures, a blog, a link to your Facebook page, etc.  It’s truly what people came to your Website to see.

Your domain name was probably registered via GoDaddy, 1and1, etc.  These companies help you register your domain name with ICANN, the Internet naming and address authority.  This is a very important piece of the puzzle.  Wherever your domain is registered, is where you’ll tell the world how to find your Website/Web pages.

Tip: Head to [Domain Tools] and lookup your domain name to see who it’s registered to!

So there’s a little Geek 101 for you!  🙂  As you can see, this is already quite a bit of info to wrap your brain around.  For geeks like us, this is kindergarten stuff.  This is why people hire professionals to do things for them!  And that’s just fine, I’m not saying to not trust people and to not hire people/companies.  What I am saying though is, don’t just hand over the keys to the kingdom.  If you’re going to hire someone to do your Website, here are a few items you need to be in the loop on:

  • Register the domain name yourself – It is such an easy, yet pivotal part of the process.  Your domain name needs to be in your name, not your tech’s, not a friend’s – your name.  All it involves is, 1) go to a Website such as GoDaddy and search for the domain name you’d like to use and 2) pay for the domain name (you can usually pay for a year, 2 years, 3 years, etc.)
  • Where your Website is actually hosted – Your domain name is only the tip of the iceberg.  The Website itself – i.e. all of the pages, the pictures, etc. – have to be “hosted” somewhere.  This just means the files need to be on a computer somewhere in the world and those files need to be publicly available to the rest of us out here in the world.  Since running a Web Server isn’t something most people are interested in doing, you pay a Web Hosting service to host those files for you.  This is a very important piece of the puzzle here.  If you want to update text on your Website or change an image, you need access to where the files are hosted at.  If your tech/Web Developer has your site hosted on his/her Web Host, that means they’re in control.  Sure they can give you the FTP user name and password, but they can change that on you at anytime, cutting you off from access to your pages.

This is why we recommend getting your own Web Host.  You don’t need to understand all of the geeky stuff that goes on behind the scenes.  What you do need, is control.  If you start working with one Web Developer and then decide to start working with a different Web Developer, you should be able to hand him/her a single page that says, “here is my Website info.”  They can do all of the geeky work for you, but if at any point you decide you don’t want to work with them, it’s just a matter of changing the passwords and they’re locked out.  If it were the other way around, he/she could just lock you out.

There are times when it’s ok to let your Web Developer do the hosting for you, but that’s something only you can decide.  I’ve seen store owners work with reputable companies, only to be “locked out” when it comes time to move on to a new Web Developer.  I’ve also seen store owners work with smaller companies or individuals and have nothing but a positive experience.  It’s just like anything in this world – there’s no way to predict the future.  All I can say is, there’s a way to make sure things are always in your control.  If there’s any doubt or question, then always err on the side of caution and get the domain and hosting registered yourself.

If you need any assistance registering your domain or signing-up for Web Hosting, The Computer Peeps can help you do this.  We’ll ensure you get the right host and that everything is in your name.  Don’t get stuck with a Website that can’t be updated or a domain name that isn’t in your name!  The cost of “transferring” everything over costs far more in both time and money, than to just register everything in your name.

I've been helping consignment & resale store-owners since 2003. I started The Computer Peeps in February of 2010. After 15 years of working with consignment stores, I understand the unique challenges consignment & resale storeo-wners face. From electrical issues in old building or strip malls, to advocating for them when their consignment software keeps crashing. I now manage over 400 computer systems, servers & websites for store-owners all across North America and I am the developer/programmer of Peeps' Software -- the only software written FOR consignment & resale stores specifically.

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