Transferring a domain can be an adventure. Learn how to make it less painful.

One of my WordPress colleagues, Kathryn Presner writes an interesting newsletter full of web design tips. Her latest one discusses the process one should take to transfer a domain name from one registrar to another:

First, avoid doing a domain transfer when you’re very close to your renewal date. Give yourself lots of time, just in case something goes awry. A month is great – two weeks should be doable. A week is really cutting it close.

Be sure the domain is unlocked before starting the process, or your transfer will be denied. Domains are usually kept locked to prevent unauthorized transfers, so when you’re ready to initiate a transfer make sure to go into your domain control panel and unlock it.

Make sure the contact email in your current account is up-to-date. Much of the transfer process relies on email notifications at every step, and if you’re not getting notifications at the right address, it throws a huge wrench into the works. On the flip side, some registrars will deny a transfer if you’ve changed any registrant details within a few months of renewal, so be sure to look through your registrar’s transfer FAQ before changing any contact information.

For most types of domains, you will need a special code from your current registrar. Because nothing is simple in the world of domain transfers, the code goes by many different names: EPP, authorization code, AuthInfo code, transfer key, transfer secret, and so on. Not only that, but simply locating it may not be obvious! You may have to look around for a while to find it – and take note that some registrars provide it directly in your control panel, while others will only email it to you. Again, if you get stuck, your registrar’s transfer FAQ may provide clues.

Keep an eye on your email after you’ve submitted the transfer request
and when you get an email from your new registrar, be sure to choose the option to accept the transfer. You should also get an email from your old registrar and/or see a note in your control panel that a transfer is pending, at which point you can manually approve the transfer by logging into your control panel and clicking in the right place. If you don’t complete both these steps, your transfer will be either delayed by several days or blocked entirely.

Make a note of any services you may be using from your current registrar, such as domain parking, forwarding, email, custom DNS, or others. You will need to ensure that your new registrar offers the same services, and then once the transfer goes through, set up the equivalent services again. Be aware that there may be a time lag between when a service stops at your old registrar and when you can re-start it at your new registrar.

I know it seems like a lot to remember. Once you’ve done this a few times, it does go faster, but it’s always a bit of a rigamarole. Good luck to all in your domain-transfer adventures!

For more great web design tips make sure you subscribe to Zoonini’s newsletter or browse through back issues.

Keeping Your Web Info in Order

For some, building a website can be quite a big undertaking. Once you’ve done it once or twice, like anything, it gets easier. You’ve learned the lingo, understand the difference between domain registrar and hosting and have a good idea what your web designer will need from you.

One of the most crucial part is very simple, yet often overlook and that’s keeping everything about your website info in order. I’ve seen this problem happen many times when taking on new clients who dealt with a previous web designer. Transitioning to a new web designer can be painless or complicated, depending on how well you’re prepared.

All web designers see this and most of us offer similar advice. In this month’s copy of Zoonews, Kathryn Presner shares the following tips:

Domain registration – be sure you are listed as the domain registrant (not your web designer!) and that the email address on file is an active account. If your web designer’s email is listed as a contact instead of yours, make sure you switch it over to your own email address before you cut ties with your old designer. This is extremely important. I’ve heard of business owners who lost control of their domain name because they failed to do it.

Hosting account – keep handy all relevant details, including the name of your hosting company, the URL of your web-based control panel, and its username and password. Know your FTP (file transfer protocol) credentials, including your FTP host name, login and password. This information will allow your new designer to access your web server and website files.

Logo – have an electronic version of your current logo on hand. It should ideally be in a vector format (like Adobe Illustrator or EPS) on a transparent background, to ensure the greatest design flexibility.

Graphics – retain electronic versions of any images such as stock photos that you may wish to reuse.

E-commerce – know the login details of all e-commerce accounts you may have, such as PayPal and shopping cart systems. Be sure you have access to the accounts, and that they’re registered in your name.

Keep on file in an easy-to-remember place all other information and documents related to your website. It’ll simplify your life – and that of your new web designer – more than you can imagine.

Kathryn Presner runs a web design company, Zoonini Web Services in Montreal. She’s also spoken at several WordCamps and is a moderator on the WordPress Support Forums.

Social Media works if you make it work for you

Almost every week, I’m asked questions on the merit of social media. People are curious about why one would need to use facebook or twitter. My usual response is that social media works, but it only works if you make it work for you.

Of course it takes time and effort and you will need to moderate your social media accounts. Could you hire someone to do that for you? Sure, but you could also hire someone to look after your kids and raise them.  Is that what you want?

In order to clearly explain what I mean by “making it work for you” I thought I would share what my process is and how I make it work for me.

Fortunately, I started early. I’ve been blogging since 2004, so blogging is part of my social media strategy. This strategy is no more than a word though. I don’t have a blogging schedule and I’m not very discipline. I write blog posts when I have something to say but I always write on topic.

Read more…

Bluelime Media Design Principles

I had the pleasure of attending the Interlink Conference last Friday and loved every minute of it. The speakers were all very knowledgeable and gave excellent presentations. Following the event, I hopped on a plane and headed down to Portland for the World Domination Summit (WDS). Although both conferences covered very different topics, the main message that I got from that three day weekend, was simple – be yourself and be the best you can.

Whitney Hess gave a great presentation on the Principles of UX Design. In her talk she challenged the audience to read companies’ design principles and guess who they were. Some of these were then discussed and mocked a bit. Facebook claims that transparency is an important principle of theirs, yet, we’ve witnessed the opposite on many occasions. Charles and Ray Eames have a delightful list of principles and these are clearly felt in their designs. I’ve never been to Burning Man, but my friend Kathleen immediately guessed them to be behind this ambitious list of design principles.

Although the topic of WDS wasn’t Web design, similar set of discussions happened throughout the rest of the weekend. Whether you call them business principles or design principles, the principles you live by are what define you and make you who you are. On the flight back to Vancouver, I took a pen and paper and decided to make my own list. I probably should have done this 8 years ago when I started this company, but better late than never. So here is my list:

Bluelime Media Design Principles

  • Do good work
  • Code to standard and best practices
  • Keep files organized and easy to understand
  • Always look for better ways
  • Update client work even if they don’t ask
  • Find the easiest/best solution for the client
  • Suggest alternate designer or developer if I can’t do the work
  • Help others
  • Teach
  • Connect people
  • Be positive