We’ve had so many small business owners come to us for a website re-design, only to find that their previous developer owns the business’ hosting, domain name, and sometimes even its email account. It’s not uncommon, and there’s really no recourse for the business other than shelling out for rights or litigation.
While keeping the technical lingo to a minimum, here’s a basic guide to starting up your online presence as it pertains to getting a domain name, webhost, and branded email account:
Domain Name Hosting
This is the name of your business online (e.g., www.MyBusinessName.com).
- Begin by finding an ICANN-accredited registrar to register your domain name for one year or longer.
- Most registrars immediately create a domain name system (DNS) listing. This is basically a unique “phone number” for your domain and corresponding listing in the internet’s “phone book.” Your domain name is reserved until you build your site.
- If your web developer is registering your domain name for you, confirm in advance that you will be registered as the owner. Whether deliberate or not, if the agency registers under its information, it owns the domain name. See who owns a domain name at www.fasterwhois.com.
Domain name registrars usually offer hosting, which is generally simpler, as it involves dealing with only one provider and account, rather than two.
- Don’t leave your choice of webhost up to chance or circumstance; it should be an informed decision. For more on how to make it, read Choosing the Right Host for Your Business Website.
- Many third-party systems let you build a website cheaply or for free. They make their money from modest monthly fees and/or displaying their own advertising on your site. Some own your domain name, hosting, and email account. Read the fine print up front so you don’t find this out when you decide to build your own independent site.
It’s more professional to have an email address that ends with your brand/domain name, rather than the name of a free email service (i.e. You@YourBusiness.com vs. You@gmail.com). This adds credibility; most web users are skeptical of businesses using the latter format.
- Your domain registrant/webhost should host your email account. Alternatively, some companies like Google and Microsoft offer branded email accounts for a fee. Again, it’s generally easiest to have one company doing everything.
- You don’t need to pay to integrate your branded email account with your mobile devices or to forward its messages to another account. Contact your host for assistance setting up your email exactly where and how you want it.
- If you’d like more information on this topic check out our article 4 Reasons to Have a Branded Email Address.