I have been designing and developing websites for just over six years and one thing I have noticed that separates me from the rest of my competition is my desire to ensure my clients have control and ownership of their domains and websites. Being a small business owner myself, I understand the importance of something so small being so big. Your website is your livelihood. My job is not only to create websites and other marketing tools, but to build relationships and educate my clients so they are self sufficient.
You may think I am crazy for saying that, but it’s true and yes – I still make a profit on repeat business because my clients appreciate having the power put back in their hands and in the end still choose to have me maintain their websites. One thing I always ask myself is that if something were to happen to me tomorrow, will my clients still be able to access their accounts and websites? If the answer is yes, then I have done a good thing.
All too often I have had the responsibility of trying to regain control of a customers website and/or domain from their previous webmaster. It doesn’t always go smoothly. Some designers have a tactic where they will register your domain under their control and not give you ownership if you choose to have someone else do the website. Ethically I feel that is wrong. If you are paying for the domain, it should be yours. You need to make sure you are the administrative contact and email (should you ever want to transfer registrars, this is imperative).
The same goes for hosting plans. Make sure it is in your name and that you have all account login information and ftp access. Your hosting is where your website files reside and if you don’t have access to this you could stand to lose your entire website if your relationship with the webmaster or designer goes south. It sounds harsh, but it happens more often than people would like to admit.
If I was to offer advice on this topic, it would be to register your domain and hosting yourself or find someone you trust to do it for you. I am a firm believer that regardless of price, the first deciding factor that guides your decision in who to choose as your web designer or developer should be based on trust. Go with your instincts not your wallet. The extra few dollars saved may cost you more in the long run.