As the Internet has grown over the last 20 years or so many things have changed but also many things have not changed. For example, The way visitors engage with a website hasn't changed that significantly over that time but the types of devices used has. Gone are the big clunky CRT monitors and now more people use mobile devices to view websites than ever before. According to Pew Research's post “Technology Device Ownership: 2015” 68% of Americans have smartphones; 45% have tablet computers.
The reason I mention this is simply to demonstrate the number of potential people that can now visit a website that you might have available to you. There are now well over 1 billion websites live and with those come the associated problems of having an online presence (should you not be informed).
It's our hope that the following enlightens rather than infuriates as we'd like to arm you with as much information as possible to ensure that you own your website and it's IP (Intellectual Property) belongs to you and your business.
The main reason behind writing this article may not be obvious but as the number of websites available has increased so have the problems that clients' have experienced
Can You See Your Website?
Is your website online, can you see it and is it available to the world?
This could be for any number of reasons, an unpaid web hosting invoice perhaps or a web development invoice that has been overlooked.
Whatever the reason if your website is offline or unavailable then you'll need to look into this as a matter of urgency.
Do You Own Your Domain Name?
Probably the most important part of having an online business is having a domain name. More though, is ensuring that you are the legal registrant or “owner” (even though no-one can actually ever “own” a domain name).
Are you listed as the legal registrant? This is quite easy to find out. Simply visit “http://whois.domaintools.com/YOURDOMAINNAMEHERE” and insert your domain name. Once the results come back just have a look at the information available under “Registry Registrant ID:”. Is that you and do you have access to the e-mail address listed?
Another critical piece of information here is the “Registry Admin ID:”. Typically this will be your web designer but that means that if the website needs to be transferred to another hosting company this person will receive the authorisation to do so. Obviously if you have a good relationship with your web designer this isn't an issue.
Do You Own Your Website?
This might be an obvious question but one that many clients overlook.
Take for example a project where the designer is contracted to receive half the payment up front and the remainder upon completion. You'd be forgiven for thinking you own the content. In reality it's entirely possible that the designer retains the IP (intellectual property) of the website (including content and images) until the contract is complete.
Our suggestion: Ask. We never have an issue giving full IP to our clients when the website is complete but many designers do still retain this.
Can You Access Your Google Analytics?
If you own the website, have FTP access and can upload files then this really isn't a massive issue. It can be an inconvenience though if you cannot access the Analytics for your website so it's always best to check.
Can You Access Your Google Search Console?
Just like Analytics Google Search Console (also known as Google Webmaster Tools) can be updated should you need to by simply uploading a file to the server or editing a file on the server.
Both Analytics and Search Console combined can provide invaluable insights into your website, the optimisation and how well your website is doing both in search and for those that visit your website.
Do You Have Backups Of Your Website?
Again, perhaps an obvious question but one a web designer will almost certainly ask if you want to transfer your website to them or their servers.
Not having a backup doesn't make it impossible to re-create your website but it might be costly (depending on the size of the site) so it's always a good idea to have a backup available.
I hope the above was of some use and if there's anything we can help with please feel free to reach out.