A Cautionary Tale
I am writing this to all small business owners who are looking have a website built for their businesses for the first time.
Regardless of how computer/internet illiterate you think you are please, do not work with a web designer or company that insists on buying your domain name and/or hosting for you. The person or company may be great at what they do, they may produce amazing work, they may even be nice people, but if they want to purchase your domain name and hosting for you they are bordering on what I consider unethical. Now obviously there are exceptions to this, but as a rule of thumb you should not have your designer also host your website and you should NEVER let anyone else own your domain name. A good designer can walk you through this process (perhaps for a small fee), and should want you to own your own domain and have your own hosting account. Consider the following:
Recenty I began working with a client who is the type of business owner who implicitly trusts the people they hire. Which can be a great trait to have. Unfortunately in the case of her web designer, her trust betrayed her and the designer was unethical in his practices. The client hired a “web designer” to build a website, the designer overpromised, had to sub-contract the site, and even then underdelivered on what was promised (no contract was ever signed). The client was justifiablyupset and tried to get the designer to fix the issues with her website and her designer became unresponsive.
At this point she began the search for a new designer. Enter Iconiq.
After we went through the quoting and contract process my first questions were fairly standard. Did she have the current ftp/account information for her site? Was she happy with the hosting? etc. The only information she had was the login for the WordPress account which was very poorly assembled. She did not have her own hosting account so I recommended switching hosts and building a new site then pointing the DNS for her URL to the new host once the site was done and cancelling the previous hosting. I assured her that would be a simple procedure and could be done quite painlessly, all I would need was the information for her domian registration account. She did not know what that was. I did a quick whois search and found that her comany’s domain was acutally owned by the designer that built the original site.
With the desingner unresponsive, in control of the hosting, and ownign the domain name, I recommended buying a new domain and redirecting the old domain to the new one after her new site was complete. Eventually, everything was fixed, her new site was designed, the old domain was forwarded on to the new one and she has full ownership of the new domain name and hosting.
The moral of the story is make sure you own your domain name and have your own hosting account, that way you are never beholden to any one designer for the online presence of your business.