I’ve been interacting with two local clients – within India – and I am hearing more and more horror stories about how their web designer owns their website domain. It’s a complete lose-lose situation for the client!

Most so-called web-designers in India suck. Not only do they have no clue about aesthetics and layout, they also have no idea about usability / accessibility / UI – they don’t even know that such ‘things’ exist. It seems that more and more so-called web-designers, locally, are concentrating on ensuring that they take control of their clients’ web domains so that the client has no choice but to stay with the same designer, or lose his domain name in the process.

This is not a personal spiel against anyone and neither am I claiming to be an expert web-designer myself. But such practices of blatant ripping off of a client will only lead to a bad name for the web-design community and the design industry in general. It’s just plain WRONG!

It is not a web-designer’s job to register a domain name for a client – most would do it as an additional service. Even if he / she does that as an additional service to the client, the domain name needs to be registered in the client’s name.

If, for some reason, the client’s name cannot be used for registration – because most domain registrars will ask for the client’s credit card – and unless the web-designer sits the client through the whole registration process [ which is a pain most designers can do without ], most clients would not know what options to choose and which packages to pick. In such a case, most web-designers/developers would register it in their name and ask the client to pay up using the receipt that they receive from the registrar.

As a service provider, the web-designer/developer should respect the client’s wishes when they want to move onto a different designer. Keeping ownership of a domain name only out of spite for your competition is only going to serve the purpose of bringing down your reputation as a professional designer.

I have been in such a situation where the client did not know how to register a domain name or how to even pay for the hosting. I paid for it using a friend’s credit card and un-checked the auto-charge feature. I also used the client’s details for the registration – their name, their address, their e-mail. Only the password was set by me personally – once the registration was done, I sent an e-mail to the client will all the details that would help them repeat the process next year when the domain expired. It is as simple as that.

12 comments

  1. This kind of blackmailing is not only done in India its all over the world. Its usually done by the designers who are not actually the Designers but so-called designers; who’s design is not up to the standard and they are afraid that they will lose the client or they won’t come back for the next update or anything related to design. That’s the reason they just want to keep the client coming back to them for the sake of their internet identity. These kind of designers don’t usually design themselves, most of the their designs are not actually inspired but more of a rip-offs.

  2. I guess you’re right Shamoon – it’s beyond ridiculous actually. I find it amazing that such a practice is rampant. I believe that only one thing can solve this – client education – and even though that term has been misused often, I think it’s the only solution in this case. Clients should know what they’re getting into.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by!

  3. “Most so-called web-designers in India suck. ”

    uh, uh.. slow down naina. :). U can’t particularly point out to India. It’s the case world wide for the novice ‘designers’.

    One other thing i have observed is, they are afraid that their design pages will be given to other designer and that thing annoys them. I had a client who changed his domain name from .com to .org and finally .net just because of this reason. The designer/company won’t give him his domain controls which is plain wrong.

    Other thing is.. most clients thinks they have the total control while the designer fool him with giving just FTP controls.

  4. Hi Naina,
    We hear these sob stories from clients every week. The other side to the story is that some hosting providers don’t allow domain transfers. This makes the designer helpless at times. Rediff Hosting is a prime example. We are a reseller for their hosting services and mostly do it only as a value-add. Even if a client wants to move away from us, there is nothing we can do as Rediff won’t transfer the domain. There is no separate control panel for each domain, so the clients has no way but to continue with Rediff.
    Regards, Ramesh

  5. I understand your point of view.

    Simple solution – don’t register your domain with such registrars. It is not necessary to register your domain as well as host your website with the same company/people. I have registered all my .in domains with http://www.website.in and they do allow domain transfers – free of cost – and why the hell not? They don’t own the domain – there is a client paying for that domain – the least these registrars can do is provide a service they are supposed to provide.

    On http://www.website.in, they have the same control panel for all domains registered by one person. But when I need to transfer a certain domain to someone else – like I just did last week – it’s as simple as a click after the client has registered on their website with a new user name and customer id separate from my own.

    I register all my non .in domain names with Dreamhost and do all my website hosting with them. I’ve never had a problem with either Dreamhost or with http://www.website.in and both providers have EXCELLENT customer support to boot.

    If we stop giving business to bad service providers they will either run out of business because they still refuse to see the client’s point of view, or they will add features that should have been there in the first place.

    Thanks for stopping by Ramesh! And thanks for the tip – I am NEVER hosting with Rediff hosting – not that I was looking for a new hosting provider or domain name registrar!

  6. Most of the indian companies for hosting suck. I know how difficult it was to transfer my client’s domain name from a big company. They tried every cheap stuff they could. The same applies for many big web design companies too. Bad code, invalid html (forget about xhtml and css) and their sites work well only in IE. But I have seen few companies into CSS/XHTML too but there are very few.

  7. Hi Deep, I still haven’t tried an Indian company for hosting – I stick to Dreamhost. But for domain registrations I have found http://www.answerable.com to be good – I’ve never had an issue with them and their support is good and prompt as well. XHTML and CSS are catching on slowly – I’m sure the small players will learn faster than the larger web-companies!

  8. This practice is mostly due to un-educated client. We have few resellers who do register their client’s domain in their name. In some cases even if they use client details they’ll use their own email id to register the domain name. And, email id provided at the time of registration is of utmost importance. If one is to transfer away the domain then this email id is used to send Transfer Authorization requests and all. Hence, few points to keep in mind, if you are asking someone to register a domain name for you:

    1. At least Registrant and Admin Contact details of the domain should be yours, including email id. Either keep using the email id using which you have registed your domain name as long as you have that domain registered or update it as soon as you change your email id.

    2. Regsiter your domain with a company who doesn’t hinder you from making changes in Registrant details or Admin Contact Details. Some companies let you update everything except Regsitrant details. If you insist then they have a long legal process to follow. Hence, it’s better to avoid such companies.

    3. Insist or better ask about a control panel for domain name before registering your domain and check what facilities they do have in the control panel. Is it mere a form to change your name servers or a full fledged control panel to let you manage all aspects of your domain name.

    This is all what you can do at minimum to ensure that you don’t loose your domain to someone else.

  9. Ajay, That’s a very helpful comment. I hope more clients spend time researching what it is that they’re signing up for before they blindly collaborate with web-hosting companies. Thank you for stopping by! Please be in touch!

  10. “This practice is mostly due to un-educated client. ”

    Well, a good company is a “customer-oriented” company, they should have been honest in the first place to the customer/client. Do not blame the customers/clients. What would you do if you’re standing in the client shoes for something you’re blind about (i.e contruction, programming, stock market etc etc), you just want people to not cheat on you, don’t you?

  11. One other thing i have observed is, they are afraid that their design pages will be given to other designer and that thing annoys them. I had a client who changed his domain name from .com to .org and finally .net just because of this reason. The designer/company won’t give him his domain controls which is plain wrong.

  12. I am an Australian web designer working in Kuwait.. and I have to say that I am SICK to death of indian so called web designers bullying clients and trying to over power them with web jargon to sell their services. I have sat in a meeting and watched an indian web designer try to tell the client that using php to drive his site (which was a product based catalogue) was too complicated and that designers nowadays are making things complicated just so they can say they have done it.. he then went on to explain the wonders of static HTML and how the client could easily add another product (to which the client had hundreds) by opening dreamweaver and using magical copy and paste…

    Then they have the nerve to tell me i’m a bad designer and that I shouldn’t be trying to trick the customer into using my overly complicated methods (I use php, mysql and AJAX). Arg, I even asked him what a server side scripting language was and he just shaked his head and said that I was trying to trick him, there was no such thing and that scripts was javascript which ran on the browser!

    Sorry for the rant, it’s just I run continiously into troubles like this with web designers from India.

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