Things happen: floods, fires, illness, servers blowing up, people retiring. Your organisation should have or start a file with details for your domain name, web hosting and email hosting.
Then if there’s an emergency, or even just a regular problem, you’ll know who to approach, how to contact them, and where and how to log in to any web page you might need to access.
Keep good records about your website
Ask your web designer to help you answer the questions in this Tip (and some future Tips) and record those answers. Store that information in a safe place within your own organisation. Don’t just trust your web designer to know the answers and what to do — they may fall ill or be on holiday when you most need the details.
Make sure that all information is kept up-to-date. Make it part of someone’s job to check the details regularly — perhaps on the anniversary of launching the website.
Domain names and websites
If your organisation has a website — and every organisation or project should have at least a Contact page online — then that website has an online address: an URL. Every URL includes a domain name, for example:
If the URL for your website uses the domain name of some other organisation, such as your Internet Service Provider (TelstraClear, Xtra, Orcon and others), or a free hosting service, such as WordPress.com, then you’re losing out on a lot of benefits. Addresses like
http://homepages.paradise.net.nz/~miraz are fine for individuals and personal websites, but not for community groups or businesses.
Read some of the older Tips to find out how to register and use your own domain name. 1
Information you should have on file
Every domain name is registered with a Registrar, and someone has the authority to make changes to the information connected with it.
Your community organisation or business should hold records that tell you:
- Did you obtain your own Domain Name, or did someone do that on your behalf? If someone else did it, who were they and are they in any way still ‘connected with’ or ‘in charge of’ your domain name? If so, how do you contact them?
- Where is your domain name registered? Two common Registrars for New Zealand domain names are Domainz, and Freeparking. Check details for your own domain name at www.ip-adress.com/whois. In particular, look at the Registrant Contact Name and address.
- What is the expiry date of your domain name registration? For example,
tvnz.co.nzmust renew their domain name by January 2017 or they may lose it.
- Who bills you for the domain name? Do they have your current contact details? Try to use a generic email address such as
firstname.lastname@example.org, rather than a name such as
email@example.com— what happens if Jane leaves? You may not receive the renewal notice if the contact details are out of date.
- What web address do you visit to change your domain name information?
- What is your login name and password for that web address? What email address is this login connected with?
- Is there a ‘secret question’ you can answer if you forget your password for that website? If so, what is the question, and what is the answer?
- If your organisation doesn’t have this access directly, who does have it? How do you contact them if there’s an urgent need?
- What are the current Domain Name Server addresses for your website? Domain Name Server addresses are what allow the world to see and visit your website by typing in your Domain Name. There will be two numbers, that may resemble these:
- Who designed your website for you? What are their contact details?
Next time: how domain names tie in with your website’s secret ‘real’ address.
I’d like to acknowledge the input of members of the Wise Women mailing list who commented on a draft of this article before publication.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, April 2009. This article has been modified for publication here.