Do You Own Your Web Site?

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Our guest blogger today is a chick, and a very talented one at that. Oh, I’m not insulting her. She’s Paige Eissinger one of 2 Smart Chix who love to share their views from the coop!

Do You Own Your Web Site?

Of course you own your web site. You pay for it, don’t you? Don’t be so sure. You may be just a tenant!
Personally, I advise anyone who wants their own domain name to register it themselves with a reputable registrar like GoDaddy before he or she even creates a site. That ensures you that yes, you DO own your domain and have complete control over what web host you use. If, however, you prefer to hand that task over to a webmaster who will be designing your web site and providing your hosting, just make sure you ask a few simple questions up front:

  • Who will be listed as the domain registrant? You may choose to let your webmaster be the administrative and/or technical contact, but make sure your name is listed as the registrant.
  • How can I access my domain registration? Hopefully, your designer will be happy to share the login information with you. If the answer to that question is, “You can’t. I have to do it for you,” then you may want to look for another designer.
  • How can I access my web site? Again, your webmaster should be happy to provide you with login information for your web hosting control panel. You need to decide up front with your designer which features your web hosting account offers and which features you can actually access via your control panel. It’s also a good idea to keep a local copy of your website on your own computer.
  • Who will pay for the domain registration and web hosting? How will the billing be handled? Make sure both you and your webmaster completely understand who will assume financial responsibility for keeping those accounts current.

Asking these simple questions protects both your interests and those of your webmaster. In the event something happens to your webmaster, your web site will not be held hostage because you don’t know who to contact or how to access your domain and web hosting accounts. Your webmaster will feel confident in having you as a client if you show your willingness to assume your financial obligations on the front end.
Now, do you own your web site? You bet you do!
About the author
Paige Eissinger has owned and operated 2 Smart Chix LLC since 1999. She offers start up web site, blogging, and podcasting services for small business owners who need outside assistance to get started with a new web site or blog, or to maintain their current web sites. In 2004, she started Views from the Coop, an anti-geek technology podcast for non-tekkies. She currently co-hosts VFTC as an internet radio show on Blog Talk Radio with WordPress expert, Kim Beasley. Paige has personally experienced the frustration of small business owners with “hostage” web sites and helped them regain ownership and access.

10 thoughts on “Do You Own Your Web Site?”

  1. @Jamie, absolutely agree with you and spring for the privacy every time even though it’s easy to get my info. The pains of an online presence and a one-person business.

    When it comes to domain names… it’s an ugly business. I just switched a long-time domain from one provider to another. I had had it with the original provider.

  2. I’d like to also point out that paying a web developer to create your site doesn’t necessarily give you the rights to it. Generally, that work is still the intellectual property of the designer and derivative works might sometimes be the subject of legal issues in the future.

    One of my clients had this type of issue with their previous designer who was basically holding some material hostage. Our legal team who we introduced through my consulting took care of it but not without some substantial cost. Intellectual property law can be a bit tricky.

    That’s why it’s important to accurately document who owns the entire rights package of the work and whether that is handed over upon payment of the final invoice or if it’s a situation where the designer is considered to be your employee and any/all works default to your ownership. Also, once those contracts are in place, it’s much easier to require things like source files (e.g. PSD, AI, FLA, etc.) that will allow you to have an exit strategy in case the relationship with your developer goes south.

    After hearing a couple of these stories and being directly involved in helping a client out of one, my company has begun including specific verbiage regarding the issue in our consulting agreements. This is primarily for the client’s peace of mind, more than anything, since we do give them the ownership rights.

    Travis Vocinos last blog post..Building Web Apps for Seniors

  3. @Travis, thank you for sharing your experience on this difficult issue. Thank you for saving another business from heartache and legal issues. I wish more designers had your ethics.

  4. People tend to thing owning and running a web site is far more diffiult than it actually is. Even if you don’t think it is easy, it is better to elarn thses things on your own than to entrust the ley to your livelyhood to the knwoledge of others.

    John Hewitts last blog post..06/05/2008 Writing Jobs and Links

  5. Right on, John. I think some people do struggle with knowing what to do, but once they get in a groove, it’s not too bad.

    I’ve been PTA webmaster for three organizations and handing over is always hard as I have to train and answer questions. Although, I had one who did a fabulous job and ran with it. But she had a tech background.

  6. Great comments from everyone! Travis, you’re so right that hiring somebody to design a site doesn’t necessarily give you ownership rights. I’ve had this experience only once with a client who came to me from somebody else, and then only with the graphics, so we were lucky. I do try to explain the ABCs of having a website to potential clients and John, most of them just tell me to “take care of it.”

  7. Yuwanda, I’m glad you found the post valuable. The greatest compliment I can receive is that I’ve been able to explain a tech topic in a non-tekkie way! If I can’t get my mom to understand it, then I’m not explaining it right!

  8. No, you should have full rights for the work you paid for. Clarify before you sign up that person or company. Check domain name to if you planning to get one.

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