Almost all client domains are registered with a third party, or ‘Domain Registrar’. There are many domain registrars that you may see advertised on TV, such as 1&1, 123-reg of GoDaddy.
In theory, any web design agency could become accredited and become a domain registrar in their own right. In practice, this is a very costly exercise both to become registered, and to maintain the infrastructure to manage thousands of domain names. It is therefore best left to larger established registrars.
Registering a domain name is an easy process, and relatively cheap. The most difficult part is finding a domain name that is not currently in use.
Some agencies will register a domain name on a client’s behalf. They may hold an account of their own with a registrar such as 123-reg, in which they register multiple client domain names, and recharge the cost back to their client.
The recommended approach however is for a client to hold their own account with a domain registrar. The benefits of a client holding their own account include:
- Having the domain name registered in their company name, and not the design agency’s name. In case of any dispute, the client will always be in control of the domain moving forward.
- Direct billing. If a client is billed directly for the domain registration each year from the registrar, it cuts out the administrative overhead of invoicing from agency to client, and any admin fees that may occur.
- It’s easier to move your website to a new design agency, should you need to do so in future, without having to move the domain name or email.
How We Work
We are always happy to help a client set up their domain name in their own account. We do not register clients domain names in our own account unless the client insists, or for rare technical reasons. We advise clients to use 1&1 to register their domain name.
When it comes to launching a client website, we then log in to the client’s own account and make the necessary changes to ensure the domain name works correctly with their website.
Email management is usually undertaken at the domain registrar level. We again help clients to set up their email accounts, but do not host email ourselves.
Who Hosts Your Domain?
There are various ‘whois’ look-up services that let you see who is the registered owner of a domain name, and which registrar it is registered with. Take a look at http://whois.domaintools.com and enter your domain name. It will tell you who the registered owner is, and which registrar your domain is with.
Ideally the registered owner will be yourself, your company or organisation rather than a previous design agency. If you need to migrate your domain name away from an agency, most agencies are usually helpful in this regard, but it can take longer or may involve website and email downtime.