Maybe you’re reading this as a savvy business owner who bought your domain/URL address at the outset of your entrepreneurship, and you still have full control over it. Which means, you know exactly where it is, and which company it’s registered with at all times. If so, a gold star for you!
Unfortunately, this is not the case for the majority of our new clients.
We must have produced more than 40 websites for business owners during the last year, and we can’t think of many of our clients who knew where their domain lay when it was time to point/switch it to the new site. Of those that did know where their domain was, they were subsequently held to ransom by their previous web guy/gal when they suggested it was being moved to another provider.
Hostage for hosting fees
The problem often occurs because many website designers/providers supply a site’s hosting as well as its design and domain. They typically inflate the hosting fee, too; it’s an easy win for them and, as it’s a rolling annual or monthly payment, they’re understandably loathe to part with it when their client decides to move on – those few pounds a month quickly add up if you’ve a catalogue of similar clients.
Some of these designer/client relationships could have been dead for years, with no mutual contact other than a functioning Direct Debit covering the monthly hosting fee. If this was the case, why would any provider be surprised to find their client wants to move on from them - if you don’t want to lose business, don’t ignore clients once their sites are live!
If the previous designer (read: hostage-maker) isn’t being overly helpful when it comes to transferring, everything relating to the new site risks grinding to a stop. We can’t ‘go in’ and retrieve the information needed to transfer the domain, even if the hostage-maker didn’t mind us doing so, as we’d see the details of their other clients which is a clear GDPR breach. The responsibility is on the hostage-maker – but why should they help out a client who is only going to flee, taking their monthly pay-outs with them? Some domain/site set-ups are more complicated than others and it may take an hour or two to sort, which is even more reason for the hostage-maker to dig their heels in.
There are few solutions to a domain hostage situation. Most involve paying the hostage-maker to do what’s necessary, but this money wouldn’t need to be paid if everyone owned their own domain.
Even if you’re not currently thinking of moving your site (and especially so if you are), check any contract you have with your current web designer/hosting service. Find out who exactly owns your domain, where it is registered, and under what terms you may transfer it. And when you do transfer it, make sure you keep it!
Some (not all) web designers purposefully keep clients in the dark when it comes to their URL and hosting, disclosing only the barest of information to secure a regular monthly fee arriving in their bank accounts. They rely on the fact that a portion of small business owners either don’t understand or don’t place great importance on the ownership of their domain…preferring instead to trust their current provider to “sort it out for me”. It’s only when they come to end their relationship with said provider that they realise how wrong it was to pay so little attention to the issue.
The moral of the story is: always have ownership of your domain, and always have ownership of your site (so that you can make your own alterations. We’ll cover why this is important in a separate post, but essentially, it’s for the same reasons mentioned here: it’s not financially beneficial or savvy to give someone else control of your digital assets).
At Novus Marketing Solutions we use Wix for our websites, which integrates everything and makes transferring easy – once you have access to the domain’s details, that is. We reiterate: once we’ve designed a site and it’s ready to go live, we turn everything – the site, emails, domain, etc. – over to you, which is how it should be. The last thing we’d ever want to do is hold a client to ransom.
We put our clients first – even in our pricing. We’ll never a threat to the financial rankings of Jeff Bezos, but we can live with that, knowing we’re doing the best for the people we work with.
For more information, contact Novus on 07983 575934 or email firstname.lastname@example.org