This content, by Mosaik Web, was published by Angie’s List Nov 2014

Many website developers will offer to handle your domain name and website hosting for you. Mosaik Web encourages clients to do so themselves. Here is why…

Whether you already have a website, or are planning to have one developed, we believe that you should take full ownership of it.

The key when considering website design and development is to understand the three components that make up your website: the domain name; the website host; and the website files and software.

Domain Name (your website “address”)

Imagine you are building a house. Think of your domain (www.”mydomain”.com) as your postal address. Your domain name is how you are found on the Internet, a pointer to where your website will reside. You purchase a domain name (typically less than $15 per year) and maintain an account with the seller.

Website Host (your “building site”)

Next, you can think of your website host as your “plot of land.” It is the physical location where your website files and software will reside. So your website host will provide you space (your “plot”) on a server and your domain name (your “address”) will be directed to that location.

Again, you purchase a hosting package (typically from $50 to $100 per year) and maintain an account with the provider. (It is often the same provider and account that you purchased your domain name from, but not always.). We recommend Bluehost for your website hosting, their Shared Hosting “Plus” plan is appropriate for most small businesses.

Home sweet website

Lastly the “house” is the website that people see when they type your domain name (www.”mydomain”.com) into their Internet browser window. Your website (the “house”) is a collection of software and files. These files will be stored on a website host’s server (your “building site”) provided by your website host.

Management of the property

Often when you have a website built, the website developer will establish — and therefore own — the accounts that set up your unique domain name and website hosting. The developer may even charge you annually to maintain those accounts. In theory, this is a fine arrangement.

But perhaps down the road you want to have another developer help you redesign your website or add functionality. That developer will need access to your hosting account. Now what if you don’t own your domain or your hosting account? Do you see the potential problem?

The issue of ownership also is a consideration with the do-it-yourself or build-it-tonight websites. Before pursuing these options, consider the question, “What if I want to take the domain name and the website content with me?” You eventually may want to expand the functionality of your website or redesign the look. It’s always worth understanding your options and limitations.

Take control

Before you ask anyone to develop a website for you, take ownership from the start.

We recommend Bluehost for your website hosting. The suggested plan for most small businesses is Shared Hosting, the “Plus” package.

From there you can provide your website developer the access that they will need in order to build your website on your own hosting account’s server.