Top three things a Web site owner must have
My mission with this column is to educate you (without getting too technical) about how to get your business in front of your target audience, customers who are most likely using Google to try to find you.
But what if the unthinkable happens and your Web site suddenly goes down and your e-mail doesn't work?
This is an issue that keeps happening and it's making me mad. It makes me uneasy to hear of Web site hosting companies who basically, as a friend of mine said, "hold their customers hostage" because account information is withheld from them. This makes me mad because it totally goes against my own customer service standards and it gives hosting companies a tarnished reputation.
Here's an example that, unfortunately, happens a lot. Since it happened again to a new client last week, I'm talking about it in today's column.
Her company's Web site and e-mail was hosted by a company that went out of business or moved out of our area (my new client still doesn't know what happened exactly). The way she found out: she was not able to send out her e-mail. This was actually a somewhat mild case of bad service because at least her Web site didn't go down and she was able to receive e-mail. But if she had not called me, her company's Web site and e-mail would have disappeared because the hosting company skipped town without informing any of their clients.
She called me for help. I had to do some detective work to trace their domain account (she had no idea where the domain had been bought) and we were able to copy her Web site directly from the Internet (bypassing having to get onto the defunct host server) and within 48 hours, her e-mail and Web site were functioning well on our host server. She has everything she needs should she need to move her Web site in the future.
Here are the top three things that you, as the Web site owner, must have in your possession:
« Your domain name account log-in and password and the ftp information (i. p. address, login and password) to your host server. Your Web site files have to sit on a server for the Web site to be displayed in a browser such as Internet Explorer. If you don't have the log-ins and passwords to your domain account and the ftp server, your Web site is being "held hostage."
« Your domain name should be owned by you. You should be designated as the administrator of the account. It's OK that your Web site company or hosting company is the technical contact who deals with domain name renewal and any other domain issues that arise. But if you, the owner, don't have control of your domain, this is the equivalent of not having control of your title to your building. Also, what if you have a marketable domain name that another company might want to buy from you in the future? This happened to a Florida man who owned "men.com" in 2004. He sold that domain for $1.3 million. What would have happened had he not been designated as the administrator and owner of that domain?
« A copy of your Web site files. Many Web site companies have hosting as one of their services. Be informed and ask your Web site producer where your Web site and e-mail will be hosted. What if your hosting company went out of business? Would you have to start all over in building your Web site?
It's worth spending time deciding who should host your Web site and e-mail. These two things are the lifelines of your business. Typically, the less you spend on a hosting company, the more you pay later on -- either in time spent trying to get service or, in the worst case scenario, losing your Web site entirely.
These days, if your Web site goes down, your business suffers. If you don't have possession of your domain name account, your domain name ownership and your own copy of your Web site, you risk down time and your customers will wonder what type of business owner you are: on top of things or "Web wise." Be Web Wise.