Over the last eight years as a web designer and developer, I have seen a recurring problem, which seems to be getting worse and worse each year.
Here is the typical process you may take when you hire a web development company:
- You find the perfect web development company, so you hire them.
- The web company sets up everything for you. It’s a breeze.
- In a couple years, you decide you want a new website from the new, amazing web company in town. You try contacting your old web company to get access to your old site, but they are unresponsive or unwilling to work with you.
- You have no idea how to get access to your domain name and hosting account, so you have to start over completely.
Why does this happen so frequently?
For starters, web developers make extra money by reselling a domain and hosting to you. It’s a great way to cash-in without doing much work. There are some resellers providing great customer support and doing ethical work, but there are also a lot of fly-by-nighters that simply don’t know better or purposely take advantage of first-time website owners.
Secondly, it’s easier for everyone in the beginning. You don’t have to worry about making any confusing domain or hosting purchases, and the web company has access to everything they need. It makes the process flow much smoother, and you, the client, love the hands-off approach.
It may be easier initially, but this wouldn’t fly in similar situations.
Looking at it from a More Tangible Perspective
Let’s use real estate as our comparison, which is quite similar. Imagine this is your first home purchase, and you can’t wait to become a new homeowner. You’re excited to be making an investment instead of renting. Finally, you have a place to call home. Your real estate agent says, “I’ll take care of everything to keep it simple. I’ll make the purchase and take care of monthly mortgage payments, and you just have to pay me once a year plus a little fee. Oh, and I will actually own the plot of land, house, and address, so you have to run everything by me. I may even knock the house down, leave the country, or ignore all of your emails, so just keep that in mind.”
This would never happen in real estate, yet it happens all the time online. And, in many cases, the online real estate is more valuable than some physical real estate.
You should have complete control of your online real estate, and you should demand it.
Always purchase your own domain name and hosting account, even if it requires a little more work on your part. Your domain name is especially important, and possibly your biggest asset. Work with the web company freely, providing access to the accounts, just make sure it’s under your control at all times, especially when the project is over. And don’t let them point your domain to their hosting account either. Require the use of your domain and hosting account.
If you want to get a head start before hiring a web company, you can purchase a domain and hosting account on your own with a company like GoDaddy. It only takes about 10 minutes. GoDaddy has made a lot of great changes lately, including the addition of cPanel, and I recommend getting at least one primary domain and the Deluxe Linux hosting account. You can probably ignore most of the other offers that are presented as you go through the checkout process. You can search for a domain and purchase a hosting account at GoDaddy here.
If you’d like to get in touch with me or learn about my web company, visit Modern Spark.