Who owns your website?

Picture the situation; you’ve paid a large sum of money for a brand new website with all the bells and whistles. A few months down the line the web developer goes bust, and your site is left in limbo. With no support number to call, what would you do in this situation? You’ve bought a website, but does that mean you own it? Follow these top tips to keep your website under control:

Check your domain name is registered in your own name

If your domain name is registered in the name of your web designer, you may find it difficult later on to prove that it rightfully belongs to you.

Check on the copyright of website content

First, do you have the right to use all of the content you have put onto your website? Never reproduce someone else’s text or images on your website unless you have permission. Second, make sure that any contractors you use to create your website for you will agree to assign to you the copyright in any work they do on your behalf.

Find out what content management system your website uses

If the content management system or e-commerce package that your website is built in is proprietary to your web developer, then the system that sits behind your website is unlikely to belong to you. This means that should you ever wish to move away from that developer, you will probably not be able to take your website with you. A good way to avoid nasty surprises is to have your site built using an open source content management system like WordPress or Drupal, or ecommerce system such as Magento. Open source software is free to use, widely supported and easier to move between different hosting providers.

Make sure your Google Analytics account is set up as a standalone account

Many web developers will set up all their clients as ‘profiles’ within one central Google Analytics account rather than as standalone individual accounts. While this may be convenient for them, it means you will never be able to have administrative rights to your own Analytics account – otherwise you would have access to all their other clients’ data. This may sound unimportant but if you ever want to take your internet marketing campaign beyond the basics, you will need administrative rights to your account.

Establish whether you’re buying or renting your website

Over the last couple of years we’ve seen a growing number of providers offering websites for a few pounds a month, rather than charging upfront for the design and build of a website. This can be a great way for small businesses to get started but you should be aware that if you are paying a monthly ongoing fee that this usually means that when you stop paying, you stop having a website. Typically, this means you will never be able to transfer the website to another party without rebuilding it from scratch. Make sure you’re clear about whether you’re buying or renting!

Keep good records & ask the right questions!

It’s hugely important to keep a record of any usernames and passwords associated with your website – any login details associated with your domain name, website hosting, content management system and analytics package, for example. These details would certainly come in handy if your web developer were to go out of business!

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