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3 Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying Domain From Web Developers Cases have been recorded where the web developers have held a site hostage when their clients tried to leave them

By Baishali Mukherjee

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Digital is the new normal. From organisations to individuals, digital presence is now a matter of survival and existence. More than 15 billion people access Facebook daily. From such social networking sites to instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp, the entire world is going digital, fast and furious.

In India, even in rural areas, people have access to the internet through mobile phones. Hence it is only natural that internet penetration is making digital an indispensable reality. And as more and more people are introduced to the internet, mostly through mobile internet even children and teenagers are becoming netizens.

The digital reality is here to stay and business communities particularly have to be conscious of this fact, in order to stay relevant. Digital presence of a company is now not only critical but indispensable. If you are not on the net, you are nowhere. A dynamic website of your company, social media pages and other online promotions are the only way for survival.

Domains Should Legally Belong to You or Your Company

However, according to Pramod K Maloo, founder Kreative Machinez, a digital hub for business promotions and marketing, in their haste to establish a strong digital presence, many end up in taking wrong decisions by opting for digital service providers with questionable intent. This is particularly true when one buys a domain for his/her company website.

"You should never, ever let a web developer buy a domain name for you. Even if he/she does so, they should be registering the domain name *in your name*. The only exception to this is when you've given them a business name. In that case, have someone from your company listed as the point of contact. At most, the developers might need to list themselves as the technical or administrative contact if they're on retainer-ship to provide those services long-term. But the domain itself should legally belong to you or to your company," warned Maloo.

Sign the Agreement Only With Complete Understanding

In many cases, the client looking for buying a domain often has a little familiarity about the technical part of it. Hence, it is the web developers who are in charge of the whole process. If they include hosting and domain in their outlays make sure you recognize that they take care of everything and sign the agreement accordingly.

It has been seen that even after being careful and taking due measures, one faces issues with web developers who may suddenly act funny and make unjust demands including money. Cases have been recorded where the web developers have held a site hostage when their clients tried to leave them.

"In such cases, the first step is to check under whose name the domain name is currently registered. If it is legally in your name, you may be able to retrieve it by approaching the registrar directly and filing a dispute. Usually, providing your ID will be enough to get them to reset a password for you," advised Sameer Desai, Chief Strategy Officer and Founder, Brand Launch Centre by Seagull.

"However, if the domain is legally in the developer's name, you'll have to take him to the civil court and decide if it's worth litigating," he maintained.

Keep a full backup

Developers often allow their clients access to the site and sometimes also permit hosting rights, but for security of the site, they allocate restricted entry to site files and the hosting account.

"To be safe one has to keep a full backup of his/her current site in a place detached from the web developer's server. This can be done by the clients if they know what to do, or the developer can get it done for them. It's as much for the client's equanimity as it is for the developer's," counselled Shubho Sengupta, an independent digital brand consultant, who has previously worked with organisations like Ogilvy and Coca-Cola.

It is sensible to always rely on a written contract before allowing web hosting companies to book domain on your name. If web hosting companies are handling your business which is true in many cases, get an NDA signed. "Also have a clear understanding of the details you will get from them when you decide to part ways. These are, to say the least, the very rudimentary vigilance measures," opined Sengupta.

Baishali Mukherjee

Former Freelancer

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