If you own a website, you also have a domain name. A domain name is essentially the home address of your website; it’s the part that people can type in the search bar to find your website, like www.transcendit.co.uk. There are a few common problems that businesses run into with domain names - so if you don’t want your website name to disappear, here’s how to keep your domain safe.
The basics of domain names
So, you’ve set up a website and now you need a name for it. If you’re going through a website building service like Wix or Wordpress, it’s likely that a lot of this will be streamlined for you - the service will offer to lease you the domain name as part of their service. They will also host your website - you pay them a fee to store your website on their server. In this instance, the business hosting your website and the business leasing you the domain name are the same.
If you're having an awesome web design team build your website, they’re likely to lease it directly from a domain registrar; basically, a service which sells and manages domains. The organisation hosting your website might be the IT company that built it for you, or it might be someone different. But the business hosting your website and the business leasing you the domain name.
What happens once I’ve leased a domain?
So you’ve bought a domain for your shiny new website. The fee that you pay to the domain registrar actually pays for your website to feature in the Domain Name System (otherwise known as the DNS). This is essentially a directory of all the websites currently in use, and it links your domain name (transcendit.co.uk) to the address of your website (which is a string of numbers, and would be hard for people looking for your site to remember).
Who owns your domain?
This is one of the areas that businesses can run into problems with; particularly if you don’t have an IT support team helping you out. When you purchase a domain from a domain registrar, it’s like you’re renting a property; you pay a monthly or annual fee to the domain registrar to keep your domain name within the DNS. Whilst it is possible to purchase a domain name outright, it is far more expensive and has a whole load of other costs associated; for most organisations, leasing the domain is much cheaper and easier.
When you purchase a domain, it’s listed in the DNS along with the registrar - the organisation you’re leasing it from, and a registrant - the name of the person who registered the DNS. This is where businesses can run into problems, because if an employee begins the lease on your domain name, then they might put their own name as the registrant. Then, technically speaking, that individual owns the domain. If you have a web design team sorting your website for you, they could put their name in the registrant field.
The registrant of the domain is like the person who signs the lease agreement on a property; whoever’s name is on that document is the legal proprietor of the domain. Changing this information can be very tricky because legally, the domain is that individual’s property - it’s not a quick switch, and it’s often a legal matter.
In cases where you’re registering a domain, we’d encourage you to use your business as the registrant rather than an individual. This means that whatever staffing changes occur in the future, the domain will always be the property of the business - providing of course that you pay your fees
If you’re having issues with domain names, we can help. Our IT support team will be happy to talk you through the ins and outs of domain names and any other queries regarding websites that you may have. If you are in the process of setting up a website, be careful with who you record as the registrar - you’re essentially handing them the key to your website’s front door.
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