While most people understand the complexity of having a solid digital presence, some businesses are not aware of all the moving parts required to create a robust one. This is particularly important when building a website, especially when it comes to the management and administration of a website’s infrastructure.
Business owners tend to start building their digital identity by creating social media accounts, buying a domain and perhaps setting up a hosting solution. In most scenarios, a business will need to ask for help to friends, employees or an external agency to set up and manage these different components for them. However, what we have found in many cases is that businesses don’t have access or ownership of these different assets and accounts. This can become an administration nightmare but also a significant security risk.
We have seen that most businesses understand the social media space, however when they hear DNS, hosting, CMS or analytics the conversation starts to get complicated. It is never too late to start consolidating these details to recover your digital identity. Here are some key questions to ask your current or future website development company.
Do you have access to your own domain name?
It is surprising to see how many businesses don’t know where or who registered their domain name, which is both a technical and branding asset for a business. While in most cases businesses buy their own domains, in some scenarios they ask their agency or web development company to manage them. While this is a common and usually safe practice, it is important to have the login details to access the domain. This will allow the business to move development company at any point in time, make changes to the DNS (to change email providers or connect with third party services) or simply for governance and security purposes.
Do you have access to your hosting account?
Similarly, there are thousands of hosting provider companies. And while you don’t always need or want to access your hosting account, it is important to at least understand where your site is hosted, what the specifications of the hosting system are and the login credentials to access it, when necessary. This is particularly important for tech savvy clients, as in some cases they could be looking to implement external backups, add new email accounts or again modify DNS records on the hosting account.
Where is your email hosted?
Many hosting solutions allow businesses to have a certain number of email accounts included in their hosting package. In other cases, businesses prefer to host emails in a third-party system like Google Workspace or Office365. As one of the most important communication tools (for many of us the most crucial one), it is highly recommended to know where your emails are hosted and how to access its control panel. This will allow you to add new email accounts, monitor capacity or remove email accounts when staff members leave the company.
What Content Management System is being used and how do you access it?
While many business owners prefer to outsource website maintenance, in the last 10 years it has become a must to use a Content Management System (CMS). And while there are many options out there, WordPress has become the ‘go-to’ standard and offers many advantages in terms of compatibility, growth and maintenance. If you are not sure, ask your web development company how to access your website back-end dashboard.
Is Google Analytics installed on your website and do you have access to it?
As a free tool, Google Analytics has become the standard in terms of data collection and reporting. According to BuiltWith over 28 million sites use Google Analytics, including 74% of the most popular 10,000 sites. Having access to real time and accurate data is the key to identify popular content and patterns in how visitors engage with your website. Every business should have access to the GA dashboard, at the end of the day it is your website and your data.
Is your website connected to Google Search Console and do you have access to it?
Another free Google product and probably one of the most powerful SEO tools. Like Google Analytics, it lets you monitor, maintain and troubleshoot your website presence in Google’s Search Results. It also allows you to submit your sitemap or any content changes to Google and monitor the indexing process in time. While most agencies include Google Analytics as part of the web build, some forget about Google Search Console.
While some of our customers prefer to be hands on and be on top of their analytics or update their own website, some prefer to leave that to the experts. Either way, we like to demystify the technicalities behind a website build and be transparent when it comes to ownership and access. It is your website; you own it and we’ll give you the keys (and teach you how to drive it).
And if you don’t have all the keys or you have never received them, get in touch with your web development agency (or that family or friend that helped you) and start protecting your website and digital identity.