Call of the Day: My web designer has gone out of business … help!

This morning we received a frantic call from someone: “My web designer has gone out of business. My domain has expired and I have no email. I can’t renew my domain. Help!”

Luckily all ended well, however, it brings to light the fact that in an Internet connected world, a website and email are vital to a company. And having your website down for a long period can impact your search engine results.

Many business owners don’t realize that they don’t own or control their domain name. Without that control, a business is almost helpless if things go wrong. In this economic climate, many web designers are going out of the business or worse, disappearing.

WARNING: A tech lawyer once told me that a web design company he worked for specifically and strategically took control of a company’s domain whenever they could. Personally, that makes me queasy, but in the wild west of the Internet your ignorance is someone else’s gain. We’ve seen companies, big companies, with their domain name on businesses cards, posters, vehicles, advertising etc., lose control of their domain name. It’s not pretty, especially when one hears the words, “sure you can buy the domain from us, it will cost you hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars”.

So how do you ensure you are in control?

Check your domain whois to ensure your company is the registered owner as well as having your email address listed for the administrative contact. All emails pertaining to the domain name go to that address. Ensure you use a reputable company to look after your domain renewal. Have them automatically renew it so no one needs to worry about your site or email going down. And if you notice you don’t own it change it right away. You wouldn’t sign your company ownership to anyone, why sign your domain name over?