What Every Business Should Know About Their Website
I work with companies and individuals all over the world to develop effective websites and one thing I see time and time again is a struggle with tracking down key website credentials. This makes it problematic to work on existing projects, launch new projects and tackle tasks like switching hosting companies.
What information should you make sure you have handy about your, or your company’s, website?
Know Your Domain Registrar
A website has two major factors to it: the domain name itself (my domain name is kristinfalkner.com) and the hosting company, where the files for your website live.
These two things CAN be the same place, but it’s far more common for them to be different.
Tip: If you are registering a new domain name, I’d actually recommend making them different and not registering a domain through your host. Reason for this is if you need to move hosts down the line, if your domains are also there, it just is more of a pain to do.
Your domain registrar is wherever you purchased your business domain name. Common domain registrars are GoDaddy, Google Domains and Namecheap.
What if I don’t know my domain registrar?
If you’re not sure where your domain was registered, you can find this information by doing a WHOIS lookup on your domain by using a tool like this one. If you enter in your domain and scroll down to registrar information, you should be able to locate where your domain was registered.
Now, unfortunately, it will just tell you the location of the registrar and it can’t tell you things like what account it is under or the login information at the registrar but it will narrow down what you are looking for.
Know Where Your Website is Hosted
The files for your website live on a server somewhere. This may be a host like Kinsta or any of the other managed WordPress hosts out there. It could be a variety of the shared hosting providers out there like Siteground or Bluehost. It may be hosted through a previous developer or agency.
Helpful information you should have relating to your host include things like:
- Name of hosting company
- Access credentials to some kind of control panel or admin area
- Maybe something like FTP or sFTP or SSH, which are all ways to connect to the web host
What if I don’t know my hosting company?
There are tools like Hosting Checker and similar hosting lookup tools that may be able to point you in the right direction. They’re not always super accurate, especially if your host’s server infrastructure may be through a third party and not use their name. What I mean by that is, take my website, example: if you run my domain, kristinfalkner.com, through any of the hosting checker services, it will most likely say that my site is hosted by Google. However, my site is actually hosted with Kinsta and Kinsta uses Google Cloud servers.
That being said, those kind of tools may not be spot on but they may help guide you in the right direction. Your company is also likely paying either a monthly or yearly fee for any hosting service so you should be able to track it down through a billing department.
Know Any Key Logins for Applicable Website CMS
If your site is built using something like WordPress, you should have an admin-level WordPress user account for your site. If your site is built using something like Shopify, you should have a Shopify login for your website.
If you have no idea if your site uses WordPress, Shopify, CraftCMS, Squarespace or something else entirely, there are tools like BuiltWith to shed light there. Some applications like Squarespace, Wix and Shopify, likely would have also had indicators when tracking down where your site was hosted like previously discussed.
Know Where Your Email is Hosted
In the past, it used to be common for emails to be set up through a web hosting service. Now, it’s far more common for emails to go through a third party like Google Apps or Office 365. Who handles email accounts on your domain is controlled via MX records. If you don’t know how your emails are handled, there are tools like MX Lookup Tool that can help you find that information.
MX records are either set at the hosting level, if your domain is pointed at your host with nameservers, or at the domain registrar, if your domain is pointed at your host with something like an A record.
It’s helpful to know where your MX records are configured as they can be implicated if you change hosts. I’ve seen companies accidentally take down their entire office’s email accounts because they didn’t properly account for the MX records that needed to move from one host to another to ensure emails keep working properly.
Make Sure Multiple Staff Have Access to this Information
Who are the gatekeepers for this information at your company? If you needed to move hosts, who has the above access? Is one person the sole gatekeeper for all of your company’s website information? What happens if something happens to that person or something is needed when they aren’t available?
I’d highly recommend making sure all of this information is handy and multiple people at your business know how to access it. That way, if something comes up at the sole gatekeeper is sick, out with a family emergency, unavailable for any reason, etc., it doesn’t put unnecessary stress on that person during the time to track down information or roadblock crucial tasks from getting done.