3 Things You ALWAYS Need to Own When Creating a Website

Okay, real talk today. 

We don't want our clients to get burned. 

We hate seeing them trapped in toxic relationships with past web agencies. It's painful.

When you're trying to cut ties with an old web firm, things can get ugly. Because people are assholes.

The simple fact is that when you leave a relationship with a web design company, they don't have any incentive to make it easy for you.

It would be great if everyone was a good human being who wanted to empower your business to succeed. It doesn't seem like too much to ask. Really. 

But, unfortunately, WAY too many companies operate with the mindset that holding clients hostage when they want to cut ties is an acceptable business practice.

What the hell. No. NO!

It doesn't have to be this way. But even an agency who you think are extremely wonderful people who would never do that to me, ever, can end up being total dicks.

So we want to lay down three 🚩 MAJOR red flags 🚩 for you today.

These are three things you absolutely need to retain ownership and control over when you work with ANY web team. Yes, even us.

Working on a new website? You need to protect yourself from the beginning. Owning and controlling these 3 essential accounts and properties will keep you from being totally f*cked over by web design companies later down the road. Pin and read, and PLEASE PASS ON! | Hoot Design Co. • Web design, marketing, branding, social media agency in Columbia, MO

1. Your domain name

Your domain name is simply the address (URL) your website will be at. A domain name can end in .com, .co, .net, or even more unexpected endings like .guru or .ninja.

When you set out to create a website, one of the first things you need to do is purchase a domain name from a domain name registrar, like Google Domains.

And by “you,”  I really do mean YOU – NOT your web company on your behalf.

Why is it important to purchase your domain yourself?

Because blocking you from accessing your domain – basically grabbing you by the balls and twisting like a wrung washrag, what the f***ck – is one of the easiest things for a web company to do to sabotage your business if your project goes sour partway through, you decide to leave, or you just want to find another company to work with.

It should be YOU who purchases your domain name, not your web company. 

Here's what to do:

1. Go to Google Domains. (Or GoDaddy, if you like sexist advertising.)
2. Find the domain you want.
3. Purchase that domain.
4. Make sure to keep your login info in a safe place so you can access it when needed!

Is it a good idea to consult your web team before purchasing your domain? Yes, absolutely.

We have lots of experience helping businesses finding a domain that will fit their needs for now and for the future. 

 TFW you get totally shafted by your web company.

TFW you get totally shafted by your web company.

But is it a good idea to say,
Yes, go ahead, you just buy my domain for me and handle all that”...?
No no no no no no NO! DON'T DO IT.

2. Your web hosting credentials

Your web hosting credentials allow you to log in to your web host and make changes. Access to your web host is essential in order to control your website in basic ways.

Common web hosts include GoDaddy (again, a perfect choice if you enjoy sexist advertising), HostGator, Blue Host, Dream Host, etc.

Note: If you create your site from scratch on Squarespace, Squarespace will be your web host.

But if your website already exists and you're transferring to a new Squarespace site, you need access to your web host.

Hosting credentials should be under YOUR control. Not that of your web company.


  1. Again, it is WAY too easy for a web-company-gone-rogue to f*ck you over if you'd ever like to leave. Ever. EVER! Because if you don't have access to your web host, you can't make essential changes if you ever need to. Like if your web company turns out to be total assholes.
  2. Controlling your web host keeps your costs transparent. One big way web companies manage to eke money out of you each month is by marking up hosting fees. A lot. We've heard of clients forced to pay $100/month for web hosting that really costs $6/month. Come on! If you're marking a good up that much you need to be transparent about it.

But aren't URLs always purchased through web hosts? you ask.

Not necessarily. Domains can be purchased separately from a hosting plan.

That means your web company might have bought your URL (that's what your domain name is) through your web host – in which case, you'll just need to get one set of credentials to access both. But they could be separate.

Actually, of course your piece of shit old web company purchased them separately. Probably both on separate company accounts that you can't access. Just to double-insure you'll be screwed over if you ever want to go out on your own.

 Your web company cracking the f*ck up when you try to leave

Your web company cracking the f*ck up when you try to leave

Again, do we sound bitter? Well, we are. WHO wants to treat their clients like this? Oh wait! PLENTY OF PIECES OF SHIT WEB COMPANIES DO. 

3. All Google-connected accounts

Yes, ALL of your Google Apps accounts. All of them.

If you use Google Analytics, AdWords, Search Console, or Google My Business, your business – not your web company! – ought to be squarely in control of each.

It's likely that your web company is using Google Analytics on your behalf. Or your marketing company using Google AdWords to create pay-per-click ads on your behalf.

In either case, YOU should have ownership of those accounts and your web company should be just admins or managers.

We always recommend setting up ALL Google Apps accounts under a business admin Google account connected ONLY to the business – not to individuals – and used only for admin purposes. We usually recommend this is something like yourbusiness@google.com. 

Here's what our recommendation is:

  1. Create all Google Apps accounts on your business admin Google account, then make your web company managers.
    1. Alternatively, you can give your web or marketing compay the admin login to let them set up these accounts on your behalf, then make themselves managers. This can be way easier if you are the kind of person who gets frustrated trying to deal with nitty gritty details!

Making sure your Google Analytics, AdWords, and other accounts are under YOUR ownership and control from the get-go ensures that you'll be able to take all data and history with you if ever you branch away from your current company.

And that's a good move. Because people are assholes.

You'd think that when you work with a company you trust, they'd be DOING THEIR PART by not f*cking you over from the get-go.

Unfortunately, that's not been the experience of many of our clients, or many people all around the globe.

Clients should be able to trust that the company to which they're paying thousands of dollars is using best practices – after all, you're an expert in YOUR field and should be able to trust the people you hire to take care of you appropriately. But you can't trust them blindly. And we REALLY feel for you. That SUCKS.

I KNOW it can be frustrating to try and sift through the necessary web mumbo-jumbo when you're busy running your business. It's much easier to say "ehh, let the web company handle that."

But in the long run? Completely handing over the reins leaves you vulnerable.

Taking the time to get all your accounts in order from day one takes more effort. And probably frustration. But the extra energy will be WELL worth it down the road. I guarantee you. 😬

Got any web company horror stories? You KNOW we'd love to hear them! Share all your juicy details in the comments!

OR, are you a web company that just LOVES dicking your customers over and making other agencies' lives a living hell? LET US KNOW the inner workings of your twisted minds down in the comments below.  Really. Please. What's going on in there.

Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courseswe're focused on your business success every step of the way.

Is Professional Photography Actually Important for My Business?

Imagine this: You’re holding job interviews for an open position. You’re expecting two qualified interviewees to show up any minute when you hear a knock on the door. 

Both walk in, smiling, with resumes in hand.

One is clean and prepared in a polished pencil skirt, heels, and a crisp blouse. The other is wearing old workout clothes.

Wait, workout clothes?!

BEFORE you open the resumes and BEFORE either one says a word, you’ve already formed a big first impression. 

It’s clear that only ONE applicant is taking this seriously.

Workout clothes? To a JOB interview? It’s unprofessional, unpolished, and indicates she is not really invested in landing this opportunity.

EVEN if this CrossFitter/SoulCycler/Yogi has more experience and better recommendations, it’s going to be impossible to overcome the immediate first impression she’s given off – especially compared to her competition, who is doing everything she’s not. 

But how does showing up to an interview in workout clothes relate to your business's photography?

Is investing in professional photography really worth it for your business? Or is your business better off with amateur photography? What about food photography or interior shots? Do you really need a pro photographer? The answer might surprise you. Click through to read. | Hoot Design Co.

Here's how. Think of it this way: 

You’re hungry AF and checking out the websites of two new restaurants that just opened to decide where to go. 

One of them invested in professional photography. The other didn't.

Which grilled salmon fillet with lemon is more appealing?

Or, which plate of penne with grape tomatoes and arugula do you want to try?

The choice is pretty clear. 

Despite contents of these dishes being very similar, the photos representing them are VERY different. One has been styled with care and photographed with technical skill. The other was snapped by an amateur.

To put it in other terms, one just showed up for the interview in a pencil skirt and crisp blouse. The other is wearing sweatpants.

EVEN if the amateur dish actually tastes better, the perceived value of the food takes a nosedive thanks to its muddy, poorly lit, poorly composed representation.

Whether it’s on your website or social media, amateur photography makes your business look AMATEUR.

Even if you have a nice camera, and even if you can snap a decent image for your Instagram, your photography will still be identifiable as amateur. It's not that you can't take a decent picture. It's that you don't really know what you're doing.

Technical knowhow, proper lighting and equipment, strategy, and composition are all highly specialized skills – and unless you’re a photographer first and foremost, snapping your own images will hurt, not help, your brand.

Amateur photography SCREAMS unprepared, unprofessional, and unpolished, and can even look like you don’t really care about landing the opportunity to work with your viewer. It’s the epitome of bootstrapping your business – in a bad way. 

And just like the interviewee who showed up in sweatpants, you WILL NOT be able to redo the first impression of your business. 

To wrap this up, let me make it crystal clear:


When your business looks like crap, your audience will think your business IS crap. Potential customers begin to question your professionalism, competence, and commitment to quality. Viewers think that what you offer is worth less than it actually is. You're turning them away before you can even get them in the door.

If your photography is complete amateur crap, your business is going to be perceived as far less valuable and professional than it actually is – no matter how badass your branding is.

It's not an overstatement: You can't brand your way out of bad photography. This is a BIG deal for us to say as brand specialists. We don't create photography because we know we're not professionals. But if we don't have strong photos, it's as if our hands are tied. So we routinely parter with amazing photographers like the team at SilverBox Photographers and Drew Piester. Sometimes, getting high-quality professional shots is a requirement in our contract with clients. Our hands are that tied.

So do yourself a favor and invest in professional photography from the get go. Don't show up in sweatpants.

And guess what? You're going to thank us later. High-quality photography is a gift that keeps on giving. The same professional photos you use throughout your website pull double duty in online marketing campaigns and triple duty running as print ads.

So please Book that photo shoot asap.

– Kristen

Are YOU attracting the right crowd?

Hoot Design Co. is a marketing, branding, and design agency located in Columbia, MO. We specialize in creating a custom and comprehensive marketing strategy centered around your business's unique strengths and educating you with the tools you need from day one. From logo design to brand identity, website design and execution, and social media marketing strategies in-person and through online courseswe're focused on your business success every step of the way.