Why Your HOA Needs Its Own Domain Name

Why Your HOA Needs Its Own Domain Name

Let’s face it, we all live in a digital world. Some more than others, but still we all are faced with having to learn or navigate this online space for daily needs. Home Owners Associations (HOAs) are not exempt from the necessity of carving out their own space in the digital world. A dedicated domain name, like “myneighborhoodhoa.com,” is more than just an address on the internet; it’s a powerful tool that can enhance communication, streamline operations, and foster a sense of community. Let me explain the many advantages of an HOA registering and using its own domain name.

Enhanced Communication and Community Engagement

Imagine having a centralized platform where community residents can stay up-to-date with neighborhood news, upcoming events, and important updates. An informational website under your HOA’s domain can serve as this hub, ensuring that all residents have access to timely and accurate information. This not only improves transparency within the community but also fosters a stronger sense of belonging among residents. Most HOA’s have neighborhood documents, rules and guideline packets, and even the convenience to pay dues online.

Use Case: Community Event Planning

An HOA plans to organize a summer barbecue and wishes to gauge interest, collect RSVPs, and disseminate event details. How long do you think it would take to canvas a whole neighborhood, house by house, to attain even 75% of the residents feedback? By utilizing their website, they can easily share this information, update it in real-time, and even create an interactive platform for residents to volunteer or ask questions.

Professionalism and Security in Communications

Custom email addresses (e.g., president@myneighborhoodhoa.com) not only add a layer of professionalism but also ensure security and privacy in communications. When board members communicate with service providers, third-party businesses, and residents using their official HOA email, it elevates the association’s credibility and establishes trust. We’ve seen it in some cases where personal email accounts are being used by governing Board Members (Hunk1975@hotmail.com) and you can imagine how off-putting seeing that address in your inbox may be. Or imagine an outgoing Board Member having to comb through a year or two of sent and received emails to forward them to the next Board Member taking their place? Or worse the new Board Member never getting access to any previous dialog that happened and having to start from scratch with no prior discord knowledge.

Use Case: Contract Negotiation

When negotiating contracts with service providers, an email sent from a custom domain (myneighborhoodhoa.com) carries more weight and professionalism than a generic one at Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, or Hotmail. This can lead to better service terms and reinforces the seriousness of the HOA in upholding community standards.

Seamless Transition and Data Sharing

HOAs often face the challenge of transitioning duties and information from outgoing board members to newcomers. A domain with integrated cloud storage solutions can simplify this process, ensuring continuous access to essential documents, contacts, and historical data. This digital continuity is crucial for maintaining the integrity and smooth operation of the HOA.

Additional Benefits

  • Increased Visibility: A well-designed HOA website improves the community’s visibility online, attracting potential homebuyers and elevating property values.
  • Online Payment Portals: Simplify dues collection and financial management with integrated payment solutions on your domain.
  • Feedback Mechanism: Implement forms and surveys on the website to collect resident feedback, making them feel heard and valued.

I hope this short article helps explain the many advantages of an HOA having their own custom domain name. If you have questions about how to get one set up, get custom email accounts, and maybe even setup a website, click here to contact us and we’d be happy to listen to your use case and provide you a solution that will certainly make you feel at ease and be the hero for your neighborhood or organization!

Understanding the Implications of Terminating Your Website and Domain Services

Understanding the Implications of Terminating Your Website and Domain Services

As a business owner, your website and domain are crucial assets in your digital presence. There may come a time when you decide to terminate these services. Before you do, it’s essential to understand the consequences of this decision, not just for your immediate operations but for your long-term digital footprint. In this article, we’ll explore what actions may happen when a website and its associated services are terminated, cancelled, or abandoned, focusing on aspects like email services, domain name status, data backups, and more.

Loss of Website Access and Functionality

When you terminate your website services, the most immediate impact is the loss of access to your website. Depending on your service provider, this may be immediate or at the last day of your contract. This may also include loss of your content, graphics, images, software, and functionality. In some cases a backup or transfer can be requested, but it will need to be performed before the termination.

Other actions may include:

  • No More Content Updates: You can no longer update or change your website’s content
  • 404 Errors for bookmarked or externally linked pages
  • E-commerce Operations Cease: If your site includes e-commerce, these functions will stop, affecting sales and customer interactions
  • User Access is Revoked: Customers or clients will no longer be able to access your site, leading to potential loss of business and client trust

Disruption of Email Services

If your email is hosted through your domain provider, terminating your website may disrupt sending or receiving emails. Depending on how your mailboxes were setup, you may not retain a copy locally on your device(s) of your mailboxes. People who try and email you may receive bounce-backs or undeliverable messages. Ask your provider first about options to archive, download, or transfer your email and mailbox folders.  If you have P.O.S. (Point of Sale) systems, calendars, they may need to be reconfigured if they utilize an email account with your domain name. Another thing to consider is logins to banks, government agencies, or other third party institutions, you’ll want to change your contact email to another address that you have access to or getting it updated after you lose access to the registered email account may be difficult to support.

Domain Name Release and Potential Repurchase

This is a big one that not many people realize. Your domain name, the digital address of your business will be available for anyone else to purchase and register. Depending on how much traffic your domain received and it’s ranking, it may be on the radar from some bots and software that are waiting for the chance to scoop it up and hold it or resell it for a profit. There’s very little legal obligations to get a released domain back. Though not impossible, but may be costly and avoidable by just keeping the domain registration active with a nominal annual fee.

Grace Periods and Redemption

Typically, there’s a 30-day grace period during which you can renew your services without losing your domain. Check with your service provider before you close your account to ask about this. Reactivating your domain post-grace period can be costly and is not always guaranteed.

Data and Backup Deletion

The termination of your website services also impacts your data. This includes but isn’t limited to any content, graphics, images, and photography. Unless you have a backup, you will lose all the data on your website. In some cases you may want to ensure you have a recent backup or copy of your website, because having one from a long time ago may not contain any recent or updated content. Some providers may offer data transfer services or backup and retention services for a fee. There is a nifty website that we use occasionally to research an archived timestamp or snapshot of a website through The Wayback Machine.

SEO and Online Presence Impact

Many business owners invest a lot of time and money on improving their online presence and search engine results page (SERP) ranking. To lose this may be detrimental and not a first thought when considering terminating your website and domain services. The SEO ranking you’ve built up over time will be lost, affecting your online visibility. Any external links or references to your website will lead to dead ends, potentially harming your brand’s reputation.

Legal and Compliance Issues

Depending on your industry, there may be legal ramifications to research and consider. Certain states, governments, and/or industries require data to be kept for specific periods, even after a business ceases operations. You might need to inform clients or users about the termination of your website and services, and give them a means to respond and record or document that response.

Wrapping this up, I want to leave you with some key takeaways to remember. Terminating your website and domain services is a significant decision with far-reaching implications. It’s not just about losing a site; it’s about disrupting your business’s digital presence, losing critical data, and potentially harming your long-term online reputation. Before making this decision, consider the consequences, explore alternatives, and ensure you have a plan for data backup and migration. If you would like help with this, promptly contact us so that we can act quickly and potentially save you money and peace of mind.

Our Approach to SSL Certificates For All Our Client Websites

Our Approach to SSL Certificates For All Our Client Websites

As the internet continues to evolve, website security has become a crucial aspect of ensuring a safe and trustworthy online experience. One of the most significant developments in this regard is the use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificates. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why it’s essential for websites to have an SSL certificate and why Google requires it.

What does it mean?

First, let’s define an SSL certificate. SSL is a standard security protocol that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data transferred between the server and the browser remains private and secure. SSL certificates are digital certificates that are issued by trusted third-party providers, known as Certificate Authorities (CAs). These certificates verify the authenticity of a website and encrypt all data transmitted between the website and the user’s browser.

https secure connection graphic

Now, let’s get into why SSL certificates are crucial for websites

  1. Data Protection One of the most significant benefits of SSL certificates is data protection. Without SSL, all data transferred between a user’s browser and a website is transmitted in plain text. This means that anyone who intercepts the data can read and use it for malicious purposes. SSL encrypts all data, making it unreadable to anyone who intercepts it.
  2. Authentication SSL certificates also provide authentication. They verify the identity of the website, ensuring that users are communicating with the website they intended to. This helps prevent phishing scams, where attackers create fake websites to steal user information.
  3. Improved SEO In 2014, Google announced that HTTPS (the secure version of HTTP, which uses SSL) would be a ranking signal in its search algorithm. Websites with SSL certificates are given a higher ranking than those without. This means that having an SSL certificate can improve a website’s visibility on search engines, which can lead to increased traffic.
  4. Trust SSL certificates also create trust between websites and their users. Seeing the padlock icon in the browser bar and the “https” in the URL reassures users that their data is secure and that they can trust the website they’re visiting.

So let’s talk about why Google requires SSL certificates. In 2018, Google started marking all HTTP sites as “Not Secure” in the Chrome browser. This was part of Google’s plan to make the web a more secure place. Google wants to encourage all website owners to adopt HTTPS by making it a standard for all websites.

Google has also stated that websites without SSL certificates may be penalized in search rankings. As we mentioned earlier, SSL certificates are a ranking signal in Google’s algorithm. Websites without SSL certificates are seen as less trustworthy, and their rankings may be lowered as a result.

Our agency, Design Theory, has been informing our clients about a campaign we’re performing to have all of our client websites configured with an SSL Certificate. Great news if you’re already a client of ours, and if you’re not but want to get your SSL Certificate installed on your website, give us a call or email and we’d be happy to help you!

To wrap things up, SSL certificates are crucial for website security, data protection, authentication, SEO, and trust. Google requires SSL certificates to make the web a safer place and to encourage website owners to adopt HTTPS. If you’re a website owner, it’s essential to obtain an SSL certificate to ensure your website’s security and to maintain your search rankings.

How to Transfer A Domain from GoDaddy to Another Host

How to Transfer A Domain from GoDaddy to Another Host

Over the years it has become a little easier to find certain domain information on various hosting provider control panels. However if you’re not in these areas often like a developer, it could be a bit confusing on how to find the information you’re looking for without clicking around and seeming to be going in circles. With the following screenshots and steps you’ll be able to find your domain authentication code (AUTH) in order to transfer your registered domain from GoDaddy to another hosting provider.

To start you’ll need to log into your account and get to My Products. From there you’ll see your list of domains. Click the MANAGE button to the right of the domain you’re looking to get the AUTH code for.


Once you click that you’ll be taken to the Domain Settings page. Scroll down from this view.

Domain Settings

Next you’ll want to edit the domain contact information. If this shows a different name, address, or email address you’ll need to update this before you continue further. Otherwise the AUTH code that you want to retrieve will be sent to the person listed and email address listed here.

Contact Information

Next you’ll need to update the Domain Lock. By default you’ll usually find this set to “On”. But in order to transfer the domain away, you’ll need this to be toggled off. This is a security feature to help keep your registered domain from being illegally or illegitimately transferred to a new owner.

Domain Lock

So click the “edit” button and flip the toggle to turn this option off. Then you’ll see the “Get authorization code” link below. Click that and this will prompt an automatic response to email the code to the email address that was listed above in the Contact Information area.

And that’s it. The code is usually emailed out in minutes, where you can then initiate the domain transfer with your new hosting provider by using the AUTH code. Transfers usually take 7-10 days, but we’ve been able to process some in one day if all the domain transfer acknowledgements happen as soon as they are received. What normally happens is when a transfer request is sent, the registered email from the current hosting provider is sent an email to acknowledge the transfer. In that email is a link to a secure page to either accept or deny the domain transfer. Once that is completed there may be another email to the new hosting account to also acknowledge the transfer. Once approved the release is usually done in hours, though internet propagation can take 24 hours.

We hope this was helpful for you! If you have any questions be sure to Contact Us.

The Real Threat of Your Expiring Domain

The Real Threat of Your Expiring Domain

I’ve been managing domains for over 9 years now. It’s not necessarily a hard job, even though hosting can be difficult. But for this article we’re going to stick to the business of domains. Acquiring a domain isn’t extremely challenging. There are apps from hosting providers you can use, or you can go the traditional route of creating an account with a hosting provider from your laptop 24/7 and buy domain names to your heart’s content.

Let’s Talk About Domain Registration

hosting serversYou can purchase a domain name anywhere from $5.99 to several thousand dollars. You scoff? Yes I typed that correct, several thousand. We’ll get to that in a just a few. The reason why you can purchase a domain for so cheap is usually because of the introductory prices offered when creating an account with a hosting provider. GoDaddy is probably the most well known, and at times infamous when it comes to domains.

Because the price of domains are so low for the most part, the recurring fee to renew your registration only happens on the anniversary of when your purchased it (or first registered it). Normally when it comes time to renew you’ll receive an email anywhere from 45 to the last few days leading up to your expiration. You may need to check your spam folder if you are missing these or if you previously opted out of receiving promotional emails from your provider.

Now on to the Good Part

When it’s time for your domain to renew, and you don’t renew it and it expires, it is released into the wild. Like the baby dolphin you helped raise from early childhood to an adult released back into the ocean. Because well, the internet is rather large like the ocean. I digress. So what happens when you want that domain back? Well if it is within the 30 days of expiration, your hosting provider still has it. They essentially “park” your domain hoping that you or your visitors will notice all the new banner ads that replaced your beautiful and well curated content and all your pages.

You can quickly contact your provider and pay the price for renewal (and possibly any lapse fees) and within moments your old website is back online and no more funky ads. But what do you do when it’s no longer in the hands of your provider? Well, you may be into some real trouble. There are people out there that scour the internet with apps and code waiting for domains to become newly available and buy them up for that same inexpensive low price like you did, but they place their own ads up along with a nice message on how if you’d like to purchase “this” domain you can have it for a price. In some cases the price is listed, and could be a couple hundred dollars. But if your website had high traffic, and continues to show a lot of visits from unsuspecting patrons, the resale value goes up. Oh and if you or other people submit that form to inquire about purchasing the domain, the price goes up. Almost like a catch-22 huh?

I’d like to say it’s not fair and there should be laws against this type of behavior in the market, but all of this could be avoided if hosting provider fees are taken care of on time.

This whole write up is to shed some light on a lesson for domain owners. It’s rather inexpensive to acquire and retain a domain name, or several of them at that. Think really hard if you no longer want to keep a domain. The headache of trying to get it back later could be way worse than just paying the $15 or $20 it is to renew it for the year.

Thoughts? Do you have a domain you’d like to get back from someone who bought it after it expired? Contact us and we’ll offer you some personal advice. Worse thing you can do is not to educate yourself on what options are available to you.