For many this may seem like old news, but time and time again we encounter businesses that have overlooked how their domains names have been registered, where they have been registered and what, if any, logic has gone into making these decisions.
As a result, unfortunately, this sometimes means lost control over a domain, mismanagement, lack of technical control where it points, or worse, loss of
ownership. Most importantly, this overlooks the reality that our business domains are increasingly the gateways to our business. Lose control of that and you cause your business tremendous grief.
In this article I'm going to outline some simple core principles all businesses should use to make domain buying and management decisions. In order of priority :
Retain official ownership.This is probably the most overlooked and yet most important. If working with a developerwho is going to register a domain on your behalf, ensure that your name and email address are on the ownership. Deal with this personally with your developer and ensure you receive the domain acknowledgement emails from the registry (ICANN, CIRA, or other national registries) to the specified email address you have on record.
Ensure you have access to the domain control panel.Domain accounts will have a registration login (such as http://domains.itristanmedia.com) where you can see your domains and make changes to settings and registered roles such as administrator and technical manager. Store this information in the same way you store banking information; and test this access for yourself to know that you have seen your domain control panel access with your own eyes.
Use an email account you know you will keep active for registration.Ideally this is the direct address of the key stakeholder or technical manager (CEO, CTO, IT person etc) – one that will not be changed or potentially forgotten. You may want to use a specific distribution email address dedicated to this role that would distribute to the corporate identity stakeholders in the organization; but if you do, treat this address like gold and ensure those stakeholders are well aware of the policy. DO NOT just have anyone in the organization use a generic address or a temp user's address that may be forgotten if/once they leave the organization.
Know the transfer policies of the registrar you choose.Should you choose to move your domains to another registration provider what are the terms of the registrar to allow the move? While there are registry-level rules that all registrars must adhere to, beyond this point the policies may not always the same (though most are close). Know what the policies are and the time constraints they may impose on transfers.
Choose a domain provider with full DNS management services.This is more of a personal preference and mostly a strong recommendation. Not all domain registration providers actually provide DNS management services. These are the technical management tools (A records, C records, TXT records, MX records) you need to direct your domains to your website, to your mail, and various other management tasks that are necessary to ensure your domains are doing exactly what they need to do. Why is this important? Control. Whenever changes are made to a specific service you have, like mail, you may need to change how your domain works, and that needs to happen at the DNS management level. If you don't have this level of control in your domain account, it may make this process more difficult and lengthen the time it takes for you and your technical team to get the job done.
Keep your domains in one place.Again, mostly a recommendation. Keeping all your domains in one place gives your team a clear sense of management ownership where you know that you can go to see a complete list of your domains, easily and quickly – no hunting required. Some international TLDs (.ca, .com, .co.uk, .mx, .de) you cannot register as easily with all registrars, but this will work most of the time.
Over the years, we've encountered so much client-level confusion over how, where and why their domains were registered the way they were that it greatly lengthened the time required to make changes. Sadly it is all preventable by following the fairly simple rules above.
Treat your domains as you do money. They represent your brand as much, or more than, your storefront or signage does.