Domain name registration might seem like a really simple and boring topic. There are a couple of gotchas you can very easily fall prey to. It is highly important that you or your organization own your web assets and be on record under the Registrant Name. You would not allow a third party to have your ATM card and password; your web assets are just as valuable.
Here are three key reasons why you should not hand over control of this task to your web designer or other third party:
- Your Web designer or third party administrator skips the country.
- You want to change service providers for web hosting.
- You want to cancel the domain registration or take the site down.
You can check your domain name registration by going to Google and typing in WHOIS and the name of your website. Typing WHOIS www.thebizpalcompany.com reveals my website is registered as Registrant Name: Registration Private. Pay close attention to the Registrant Name; the name listed here holds the key to your web assets. I have included a snippet from my whois record below.
In my case, I opted for the name to be private and therefore not available for viewers to see. However, I hold the login and password information and therefore all rights to my web assets.
Check your Registrant Name for your website to be sure the owner is yourself, individually, if you are a d/b/a. If you have formed a legal entity such as a Corp, LLC, S-Corp, partnership, or cooperative; you will want to use your Company’s legal name here.
You would not allow a third party to have your ATM card and password; your web assets are just as valuable.
Okay, well maybe your web designer or third party administrator won’t skip the country, but they might go out of business or otherwise be unavailable to tend to your site. Suppose you want to hire a new company to administer your web pages or you want to control it yourself and the person who set you up is nowhere to be found? You would be held hostage and unable to accomplish your business goals.
You may have setup your website in a great flurry of excitement. You just picked a great business name but not setup any sort of legal organization. As you reserve and acquire your domain name and you are asked to enter the Registrant Name: Think carefully before you type in the name of your d/b/a. Domain Registrars will require a proof of business documentation if you have selected protected renewals and want to disable your site in the future.
If you are a d/b/a or sole proprietor, and you listed your d/b/a name, you won’t be able to produce any such documentation. By all means put your own personal name as the Registrar Name. Setting up the proper ownership at the start could save you hours of chasing down help desk calls between you, your web hosting company and your domain registrar.
If you have signed a contract or asked to sign a contract with a third party administrator who sets up your website, make sure you ask about who is being recorded as the Registrant Name and that you get the login id and password to be able to have access to this information and be able to work with it for any of the reasons listed above.
I found a really great article that discusses the topic of domain name ownership in detail.