Do You Own Your Website Domain & Other Properties?

You Paid For Your Website Design & Domain. But Chances Are, You Don’t Own It!

Article written by Strand Media

Who actually owns your website? Blog post feature image

If we asked you, “Who owns your website properties?”. Most business owners would answer along the lines of, “I paid good money to a website design company to create my site, of course I own it!”. Unfortunately, this is not reality. But, why would you not own what you paid for? The fact is that websites are built with various pieces.

So, Who Really Owns Your Website?

A common situation many business owners, maybe yourself included, find themselves in is who owns “their” website. You may have signed on with a cheap website designer or even a marketing agency to increase online reputation and brand awareness. The deal or plan you choose may come with a “free website”, built into a marketing plan. This all sounds great, doesn’t it?

It isn’t good! Although this might seem like a great way to get started with a digital marketing strategy. Here’s the thing, you’re in for a nasty wake up call when you try to exit out of that agreement. The big problem? You may not even know you’re between a rock and a hard place until you try to get out. You risk losing your website and likely all the research and analytics that came along with it. The absolute worst part though? Nothing can be done about it. Why? Because you signed away any potential ownership in the website contract fine-print.

Why You Can Never Really “Own” A Website, Even If Your Website Isn’t Held For Ransom

It’s nearly impossible to truly own a website outright. At least not the same way you can own a house, car or other physical goods. There are too many pieces involved. Domain name, code, hosting servers, CMS and SaaS. As well as written content, photos and images and any database software. There can be more, or less, involved depending how much functionality a website needs.

Your Domain Name

The first and maybe even the most crucial part of your website is the domain name. It’s important to understand something about domain registration. Let’s say your web developer doesn’t manage your domain name. You registered it yourself, as you should. But you still don’t have any legal ownership of it. Think of it like the wireless service contract regarding your mobile phone number.  That is to say, it’s still important you have some kind of access or control. Register the domain yourself or under your company.

Web Server & Platform

It’s highly unlikely you own your server. Most business owners don’t. Typically, website hosting involves multiple websites being hosted on a single server. Like leasing office space in a business complex. Yes, technically you could purchase your own server. You could also create your own data center to host your website. But that’s not really the smartest way to spend your website budget.

Website Content

The written and visual content that makes up your website is yours to own… If you or an employee were the creator. Who wrote your content? Who took the photographs that are displayed on the website? Few companies develop their website content in-house. Refer above to the marketing companies that give you a “free” website, but you’re locked into a monthly plan.

The developed content? It’s likely that it’s legally owned by the marketing agency that produced it. Make it priority to understand the contract between you and the developer. Or you could end up in a bad situation. One where you try and migrate the website elsewhere, only to find out you don’t own any of that content.

Avoid A Hostage Situation With Your Website

Understand which parts of your website you can and should own. This will help avoid unfortunate circumstances. You will never technically own your domain name and web server platform. Or your CMS, SaaS or any other software related to your website. But, you can protect yourself in the following ways:

  • Register the domain name yourself from a registrar like WebNames, SiteGround or GoDaddy
  • Have the domain name under your company name
  • Don’t share your domain registrar account username and password with anyone
  • Purchase your own hosting
  • Don’t use the same login credentials for your registrar account as you do for your hosting or CMS
  • PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE PROJECT AGREEMENT AND ASK THE PROPER QUESTIONS. Who will own the website? Including design, content, code, etc.?

Cover Your Bases: Hire A Website Design Company You Can Trust

Before we offered website services, we had a series of unfortunate events ourselves. As a result, we understand the pain, confusion and other emotions that come with owning a website. Or, thinking you own a website…

Yes, as a design and marketing agency we can still manage your digital properties. If that’s what you prefer. However, should you ever require them transferred, we will make that happen. We know our clients are the owners of their finished product. Above all, hire a website design company that you can trust. Contact Strand Media today!


December 17, 2019

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