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1. Own your Domain. It’s best to have full control of your domain name (or URL).Don’t ever let an outside organization own your domain name. This is a very valuable asset and you want to have full control of it. Don’t know who owns it? Visit and type in your domain name. That will provide you with the registration data. We recommend using Go Daddy to manage domain names. They’re reasonable, speak in plain language and will send you alerts when your domain is about to expire.

- Take those expiration emails seriously. If you let your domain name expire, it can be bought by another party who will charge you to get it back. A client of ours inadvertently let their domain name expire. A third party quickly bought the expired name and their site went down. The new domain name owner offered to sell it back to them for $7000!

2. Web Hosting vs. Web Software. A quick piece of advice: there are two components to a website - where you host it and what platform it’s built on. Website hosting makes your site accessible to the world. Your website is built on a platform (also called a content management system). You will be billed separately for this and it’s important you know the difference.

3. Consider the best platform for your website. We all receive daily emails from companies telling you they can help you improve your website. The system you pick has far reaching implications. Oftentimes, businesses will pick a platform that has been developed for a specific industry. For example, a medical practice might work with developer who has a template that allows you to create a patient portal and book appointments. While it seems to make good sense, you should consider several pitfalls. First, your site will look pretty generic. These providers use the same template with limited customization. Second, and most importantly, they OWN YOUR SITE. What? Yup! It’s theirs and that means they can charge whatever they like for changes, updates and even the website hosting. You can’t take your website and leave. You will have to build a brand new website.

- When considering a developer be sure and ask them: Who owns my site? Can I take the site you've built for me and host it someplace else in the future if I choose?
- It’s best to work with a reputable website developer who uses an open source software solution like WordPress or Joomla to build your site.

4. Know who hosts your website. You want to pick a vendor who has a good reputation for reliability. It shouldn’t cost you a lot of money to host your site. Most hosting companies will bill you annually around $250/year.

5. Budget for maintenance. It’s good to consider how involved you want to be with maintaining your website. With some training would you feel comfortable making updates yourself? Or would you prefer to have a developer on retainer? Google rewards websites that put up new content so you don’t want to build your site and forget about it. You will also need to have someone with coding knowledge regularly checking your site to make sure:

- Pages are loading without errors
- Forms are running properly
- Site is backed-up
- Updates to the website software and plugins are being done regularly

6. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge invoices. We recently sat in on a series of calls between a client and a website developer who was charging an exorbitant amount of money for a very basic website. We worked with the client to help them ask the right questions, be persistent in understanding the full cost of the developer's services and advised them on how to make improvements to their website that wound up saving them money.

Bottom line - you need to be in control of your website. We are here to protect you from these perils and to advocate for you! We will strategize, design, implement, test and maintain your website. Let us alleviate the headache whether you decide to stay or go. Contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation.