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Do You Know Where Your DNS Is?

Welcome back to Answering the RFP, where, even though RFPs are evil, we make the most of these opportunities by enabling our agency partners to provide clear answers that build trust with prospects and help them win clients. 

When you’re engaged in a website sales process the focus of the conversation is on getting the project. Issues related to launching the site are way out on the horizon.

Now usually, when it’s time to launch a site, the process is pretty straight forward. But behind the scenes, launching a website involves several moving parts—and these parts require access to accounts that most organizations rarely think about. And so sometimes, when it’s time to launch, the client suddenly realizes they don’t have access to update the necessary records. 

And so, while talking about launch details may seem premature, asking a few questions can help avoid potentially serious delays when it does come time to launch.

I’m going to try to break down these moving parts for you, and it’s not critical that you remember all  the details—as much as you become aware that they exist and that they are essential to launching a site.

Of course, setting up a hosting account is one main part, but we covered hosting a few videos back. But there are other technical requirements that also require hosting—the domain name itself, and the domain name records. 

Let’s start with the domain name registrar. Obviously, every website needs a domain name, which can be registered with organizations like GoDaddy and Network Solutions. The problem is, many companies registered their names years and years ago. And once it was set up, they never had to login in again. Do you know who your domain registrar is? Could you log in if you needed to? I hope you can, but you’d be surprised how often this critical information gets lost. Or worse, I’ve seen instances where a company hired a web development company that “took care of everything for them.” Meaning they registered the domain themselves, in addition to building and hosting the site.

That’s always bad news, because the domain name itself, in such a case, is owned by that web development company. And if that company, assuming you can even track them down, if they are not willing to transfer the domain back to the client, you’ll have an uphill battle in front of you. 

But if the client is the official registrant, but just lost track of the account login info, they can still get access, but it might require a lengthy process of submitting notarized forms and documents. 

When you register a domain, the main thing that domain account does is to point to the Domain Name Server (DNS) where the DNS records are stored. It’s these critical DNS records that actually control where a website is found. And  it’s these records that need to be updated when a site launches on a new server. But if you can’t get into your domain account, or access these records—the site will be stuck on the launch pad.

Now most of the time DNS records are hosted with the domain main registrar. So for example, you could register a domain with GoDaddy and also host all your domain name records with them as well.   

But to make things more complicated, sometimes the DNS records are hosted elsewhere. For example, I often recommend Cloudfare for hosting DNS records. As a DNS hosting specialist they offer added levels of security and control for these essential records. And if their DNS records are hosted elsewhere, that’s one more rarely used account that companies can easily lose track of.

Another option is having your website hosting provider also host the DNS records. While the idea of letting one company manage all the moving technical parts has some appeal, that convenience can make things very difficult when you want to move away from that hosting provider. And if that company also controls your domain registration? Yikes!

So, establishing that your client has ownership, access, and control over their domain name account, and their DNS records, is essential to confirm well before launch day. 

Asking a few questions about these accounts in the sales process can help avert a potential crisis later. And alerting the client to this matter is just one more small brick in the trust building process. 

Before I wrap this subject up, I want  to mention one other aspect of DNS records. You see, DNS records don’t just control where a website is located, among other things they also control where email goes. And email is also one of those services that some “all-in-one” web hosting providers offer. And if your client has opted in to such a service, launching the site might entail migrating the client’s email solution—which can be a significant endeavor. 

Have you ever gotten stuck in domain record purgatory when launching a website? Leave a comment below. And if you find Answering the RFP helpful, please share, like, and subscribe.

Until next time…

Be Clear. Build Trust. Win Clients.

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