Do not let this scenario happen to you
I refuse to register domain names on behalf of customers. When you buy a domain name (actually you lease the domain name for a set period, usually for 2 years or more), you are investing in the brand name that is to represent your company for many years to come.
What would happen to this brand name if you were to lose ownership and by definition control of it?
If you need to change your website designer and if your domain name is registered in the old designer’s name, your new website designer will need the cooperation of the old designer to take over your website.
If your previous designer cooperates and speedily passes on all the domain credentials, then to a certain extent your new designer will be able to take over control. However, that still leaves the fact that the domain name is effectively not yours.
One of the worst things that can happen is that your current webmaster dies and because they have never supplied you with all the login parameters for the domain name, you have no easy way of transferring the domain name to your ownership.
This can be further complicated if you have never been supplied with the login credentials to your website control panel and website administration area.
This would result in you (or your new designer) not being able to make even the most basic of updates to your website. I have clients to whom this has happened and in the worst case scenario they have had to purchase a new domain name and I have had to port over all their content so that it shows on the new domain. For a small site, manually transferring copy is manageable but it is a lot more time consuming (and by definition more costly) to configure the new website so that it replicates the old design. On a large website this would be very time consuming.
One result of buying a new domain name and replicating the old content to it is that you could, if the previous designer refuses (or is unable) to remove the old website from the internet, end up to two websites with substantially identical content. This would be a disaster as your potential customers could be visiting your old website that has out of date information and those visitors would have no way of knowing that critical information such as your contact details, offers and prices had changed.
Additionally, Google and other search engines would see two website with identical or near identical content. This could easily result in those two websites being shown in search engines to your visitors.
How confusing and damaging would that be to your business?
Google and other search engines do not like to see pages (or websites) with near identical content for exactly the same reason that you, as a potential customer, do not want to see them. It adds to customer confusion because none of us wish to read the same content on two different websites.
In such a scenario, whilst search engines may well show both websites in response to user searches, most likely both websites will rank lower in the search engine results and worse still your old website will probably show up above your new website. This is because in many cases Google will attribute the original content as having a “higher value”, simply because that content existed first on the internet.
This is what I do when creating a brand new website for a customer
I ask the customer to purchase their domain name and to pass on the login parameters to me, so that I can access the domain name and properly configure it.
When the website is finalised, in the WordPress dashboard, I create an editor profile for the customer. A WordPress editor profile allows the customer to access their dashboard so that they can create new pages and posts, upload images to their website and place images on their pages and posts.
An editor profile does not let the customer make core changes to WordPress, such as changing themes or adding and deleting plugins. That task belongs to me as the designer and I always have an administrator account profile so that I can carry out those highest level tasks.
When the customer’s website is finalised, I provide the customer with a detailed Credentials Document. This has full instructions on how they or someone else can take over full control of their website.
Because the customer only has an editor profile and cannot make themselves an administrator in WordPress, within the Credentials Document, I provide details of how the customer can create an administrator profile. It is possible to do this even if the customer is unable to login to WordPress as an administrator. The process requires some basic technical knowledge and is well within the scope of a new website designer.
So if something happens to me, the customer would remain in full control of their website and business.
That means that I can rest easy, knowing that my customer’s business presence on the internet will always be continuous and seamless.