Digital Governance: 6 Tips for Blissful Brand Management

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Your website is a critical piece of brand equity. How can you claim ownership of your web properties and manage them effectively? In this post we outline what it takes to manage the ownership of your digital properties.

As part of creating and maintaining your website, you typically team up with partners who specialize in digital technology. This may include a digital agency, web developers, graphic designers, IT specialists, search marketers… or a one-stop digital partner who manages it all. And as you assemble your team of digital partners, you may be wondering, "Where do I fit in?" and "What are my responsibilities in this process?"

From a marketing perspective, your responsibilities may be varied - it really depends on your business and your role. But from a management perspective, there are two key components which you can (and should) own:

  1. Your domain name(s)
  2. Your hosting account

Effective domain and hosting management is a critical piece of digital brand management. An organized approach to these properties starts at the top. As a brand manager or digital marketer, you can set the tone for your digital partners by actively managing your web properties.

3 Tips for Delightful Domain Management

  1. Make Youself the Primary Contact for WhoIs Verification
  2. Make Sure You Have Admin Access to Your Domains
  3. Consolidate Your Domains with a Single Registrar

Your domain name is your URL: www.yourwebsite.com. Your URL is a key component of your brand, so you want to ensure that you know where your domain(s) lives and how to manage it. When we start work with a new client, we often find that they are unsure of who owns or manages their domain. Sometimes it's been purchased by a previous vendor; other times, the domain has changed hands multiple times throughout its life.

At some point in the life of your website, you will need to configure your domain settings. For example, when you launch a new website or change hosting providers, you'll need to change the IP address to which your domain points. Here's how to set up your domains to make this a simple, organized process.

Make Youself the Primary Contact for WhoIs Verification

One of the key challenges with domain management is that the domain must be registered to an individual person - not a company or organization. If you want to find out who owns a domain name - This is determined through WHOIS ("who is"), a query and response protocol that is used for querying the database that stores your registered user information.

"WhoIs" verification is the process by which you can see who owns a domain. You can look up WhoIs information using a third party resource like http://whois.domaintools.com/

Here's a scenario we see all too often...

Your digital partner purchases your domain and registers the domain to one of their employees. Then, that employee leaves the company, and the registration information stays the same. When it comes time to do any work with your domain name, you discover that it has been registered to an email address which no longer exists. Digging up the domain owner becomes a long process of emails and phone calls with previous web partners you haven't spoken to in years.

But there's an easy way to prevent this. When you set up your domain, make sure that you are the primary contact for WhoIs Verification or that the email contact is to a permanent company email address that does not change. WhoIs also allows you to list a technical contact - this is where you include your web or IT partner. The key is to make sure that your email address is on file for WhoIs Verification. This way you can prevent the confusion that may arise when you need to configure your domain settings.

Make Sure You Have Admin Access to Your Domains

At first blush, you may be thinking, "I'm not an IT person! Why should I be responsible for domain administration?" This sentiment comes up quite often when we're starting work with a new client. If you don't have experience with domain management, you don't want to be responsible for managing your domain - it's a sensitive digital property that requires expertise and careful attention.

But even though you may not be the domain manager, you are the domain owner. So, you should have full access to all of your domains, including administrative login credentials for your domain account. While you may never use these credentials, it's essential to own and store them in a secure place. This way, when you bring on new digital partners, you can give them quick and easy access to the domains they need to manage.

Consolidate Your Domains with a Single Registrar

As part of administering your domains, it helps to have them all in a single account, called the domain name registrar. The registrar is an entity that manages the registration of your domain, such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions. If you have multiple domains and web properties that have been built out over time, you may have your domain names in different accounts. If this is the case, you'll want to consolidate all your domains in a single registrar account. This way you can manage all your domains in one place.

Domain consolidation may mean that you need to transfer domains - in this case you will want the assistance of your web or IT partner, as this is a multi-step process that requires technical expertise.

3 Tips for Heavenly Hosting Management

  1. Consider a Third-Party Hosting Account
  2. Understand Your Managed Services
  3. Have an Emergency Support Agreement in Place

Your hosting account is where your web servers and site files live.  There are a wide range of server options available, and your choice of server will typically made by the company that builds your website, in conjunction with your internal IT department or external IT consultants. As a brand manager or marketer, you shouldn't have to worry about the technical details of your server build, but you do want to manage the ownership of your hosting account.

1. Consider a Third-Party Hosting Account

There are three ways to host a website.

  • Using an internal server managed by your company
  • A server owned and managed by your web partner
  • A third-party server, such as GoDaddy, Rackspace, Amazon Web Services, or Acquia Hosting

We've been involved in website builds for all three scenarios. In our experience, we usually recommend a third-party hosting provider. Third-party hosting companies offer a wide range of server options for all types of websites, traffic, and technical needs. This allows your web design partner to build their server exactly as they need it, not restricted by the limitations of your IT partner's offerings or competencies. In the end, this makes for a faster and more powerful website.

While it's important that your web partner has the exact server specifications they need, you want to maintain ownership of your servers. Third-party hosting allows you to have an account and server that you own, rather than a server owned by your web company. If you ever need to transfer your site, or if you move to a new web company, owning your hosting account will prevent any gaps in service during the transition.

2. Understand Your Managed Services

As part of your web hosting agreement, you will likely have the option for Managed Services. The specific nature of Managed Services will depend on your site, your server, and its needs. But Managed Services will typically include server provisioning, site backups, server upgrades, and server troubleshooting. You may choose to retain an IT company that handles your Managed Services; or you may select a Managed Services package through your hosting company for an additional cost. Whatever approach you choose, you want to make sure you have a plan for regular backups and server maintenance.

3. Have an Emergency Support Agreement in Place

In addition to Managed Services on your server, we recommend having a formal agreement for emergency web support. If you ever encounter a web emergency - if your site goes down, for example - you don't want to wonder, "Which company should I be calling right now?" Establishing a formal agreement for web support alleviates this worry. Emergency support may be offered by your hosting provider, or by your web partner.

In some cases, it makes sense to have multiple support agreements in place. One challenge with this, though, is that you may not know who to call about a particular issue. Diagnosing the cause of your problem will require some technical knowledge, so it helps to have one partner who is "gatekeeper" for your web support needs.

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Whether you own a single website or a full portfolio of digital properties, the key to website ownership remains the same: an organized, consolidated approach to all your digital accounts, managed from the top down. By managing these accounts proactively, you can take ownership of your brand across all its digital channels.

Are you struggling with managing your digital properties? As part of our web design and web development services, we help companies streamline their digital accounts. Want to learn more? Let's make contact!

Chicago's Best Female & Minority Web Designer - Chris Mickens

About the Author

Chris Mickens

Chris is Co-founder/Creative Director at EDUCO. Connect with Chris on , , or Google+