Own and Control Your Website
More and more online “Build Your Own Website” programs and sites are popping up offering free or low priced DIY packages, and businesses need to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using these online resources to brand their company’s online presence compared to a custom designed website. Often times you do not own and control your website nor the domina name when using these 3rd party site wizards.
Like many resources of technology, everything has its place and use, but businesses need to decide if a short term free/low cost solution is the best way to go when creating their brand online for potential customers.
The most common issue to consider when using a BYOW or DIY program site, is your domain name. Many sites do not permit you to create a unique domain name, rather they have you create an account name that is inserted into their domain name. Example: www.sitename.com/youraccountname. If you use one of these sites as your business website you loose out on a unique URL address name that can easily be purchased by another entity. Plus, using a shared URL with your company name does not project a serious professional business image.
Maybe the site allows you to register your own unique domain name, but requires you to host the name with that site only at registration. At that point it is important to know who actually owns that domain name and has control of its settings. If you would like to use a different hosting company, can you keep the domain name and transfer it to another hosting company? www.whois.org is a great resource to learn who owns your site’s domain name and have a better understanding of any restriction that may exist.
How well do you know the BYOW or DIY sites? Have they been around for a while and what will you do if they close down taking your design and content with it? Sites that allow you to create quick copy and paste layouts or build your own site may have limitations on who owns what is in the site, including the images and design layout or template. If that site should close up shop you likely have access to your content files or hopefully you have backed them up and saved them, but that doesn’t mean you can take the design with you. The site most likely will own those site images and graphics and you will be out of luck with plenty of content but no design to house your content. Geocities is a great example of a DIY site that closed up and left owners with only their content, and that is only if they saved their files in time. Having to start over with a new domain name and site design can spell disaster for a business that has already built their image on the Internet and now finds themselves having to start from scratch.
Deborah Carney (AffiliateABCs.com), Affiliate Marketing Expert, reminds us in her article: “Who Owns and Controls Your Content” Internet Marketing from the Real Experts Edited by Shawn Collins and Missy Ward that: “While free sites have their place, and social networks are certainly great places to have a presence, it is important that your social marketing efforts be used to drive traffic to a place that is under your control; a domain you have purchased on hosting you pay for. Additionally, be sure to keep a backup so that if your host goes down, you can move that content to a new host without worry, and quickly.”
If you are using a site that is both hosting your domain and creating your design, you do not own your site and you are not in control of your online marketing and image. However, if this is a temporary solution to a short term goal while your custom design is being created, the sooner you can transition your site over to your own, the better for your business in the long run.
A custom website in which you own your own domain name and can chose where you would like to host your site, gives you the control of your future website decisions. Be sure to save all the original design and content files and backup your site files when changes are made. When you are in control of your site, you are in control of your company’s online image and branding.