Is your business website being held hostage? – Part 2

7 Steps to keep control of your business website

In our last post we shared a short story about how one unsuspecting small business owner lost control of her website to a Mr.

Hostage Situation

Is your business website being held hostage?

Unreliable.  In this post, we’ll describe how you can protect yourself and retain control of one of your company’s most important online assets.

This list is really for the small business owners who don’t want to get too involved in the management of their websites.  In these instances, business owners will most likely be outsourcing the management of their site to a website developer.  The following are the precautionary steps in such instances.

1.  The most important step you can take if you are contracting with a website developer, do your due diligence.  Do not sign-up with the first or even the second person who offers you these services.  Ask for references and CONTACT THEM.  If the developer hesitates or his/her references have only been doing business with the developer for a few months, stop and search for another more experienced and reputable website developer in your area.  Your company’s website is too important to turn over to an untested resource.

Also, READ CONTRACTS CAREFULLY.  Some small business owners signed contracts with web developers only to find out that that they locked themselves in to using that developer for a minimum of 3 years.  In other words, they were at the developers mercy.  Don’t do this.  If you can’t sign a 6 month trial or a 1 year contract, keep shopping.

2.  Make certain your name and contact information is listed as the registrar for your business domain or url.  An easy way to double check that this is the case, you can visit GoDaddy or any or the tons of other similar domain service providers.  Input the url of your business’ domain and when it says that the url is taken click on the (Get Info) link.  It will take you to the WHOIS registration of domains.  Make certain your name and contact information is listed as the Registrant, Administrative Contact and Technical Contact for your domain and all of the information is current.

3.  If the WHOIS information is not as it should be, follow the instructions below to make the necessary changes.

  • Log in to your account on your domain registrar’s website. This is the company where you registered your domain name. A few common registrars are eNom, GoDaddy and others.  You can also find this information at the top of the WHOIS listing.
  • Click on the “Account” or “My Account” button to bring up your management screen. Look for and click the link labeled “Domains” or “Domain Management.”
  • Click on the “Contacts” or “Contact Information” button to change the WHOIS information.
  • Edit the organization, registrant address, telephone number or contact name.
  • Click “Finish” or “Save” to update the WHOIS information for your domain name.

4.  If your url is not under your name and you can’t change it, contact your website manager and ask that it be changed.  If they won’t, you may be forced to get another url.  Do not wait for your website person to change their mind.  If they are that unscrupulous, your relationship will only get worse.

5.  Do not turn over the hosting to your website developer.  You create a hosting account and retain account control.  You can always give your website developer FTP access for them to perform their duties.  Your hosting service will explain how to do this.  Some of the more popular hosting services include Bluehost and Hostgator, but there are many others from which to choose.  You may also find that going direct for hosting services is a lot less expensive than through a website developer.

6.  Either you or your website developer should do periodic back-ups of all of the files on your website.  If anything happens to the developer or your hosting service, you’ll have the files necessary to recreate your website.  The frequency of the back-ups is dictated by how often things change on your website.  Just make certain you have the most recent update on hand…at the office or at home.  Some hosting services may provide automatic updates.  Check when you sign-up for your account and arrange for this to occur automatically.

7.  Visit your website periodically to make certain it is the way you want it to be.  If there are items that need to be updated or corrected, make a list and get them to your website developer.  Ask for a timeline as to when the changes will be completed.  If you begin to experience delays, difficulties or resistances in working with your current website developer, start the process of shopping for another.  Don’t wait until a major problem arises.

These steps are not fail safe.   Stuff happens.  But if you do your due diligence at the outset, there is a very good chance you will limit your business website exposure to being held hostage.

If you have had any negative experiences with website developers, feel free to share them below so other small business owners might learn from your experiences.  We look forward to your comments.

Sheila Hibbard

Sheila Hibbard takes the fluff, hype and confusion out of marketing and social media. She provides small business owners with straight forward, no nonsense marketing guidance and techniques that produce results based on her 35 plus years in advertising, communications, research, strategic planning and social media. Author of Marketing Online Made Simple - WHO.

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