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I'm building a website for a local business whose owner is a friend of mine. He is not computer literate, and he doesn't want to care.

How should I go about buying a domain name for his business? Should I use my account to buy a domain in his name? Should I have him open an account and buy the domain? Any best practices?

I'm not asking for legal advice, but about what works best for both parties.

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

You should put it in his name. Unless you're a partner or acting on his behalf for business purposes, you don't want to be tied to him if there's a falling out or other problem legally or financially.

If he's in charge of it and is contacted due to an issue he can be in charge of contacting you (or some other tech) to resolve the issue. It's part of running the business.

This is a business issue, not a personal issue.

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I agree with all of above. In addition, most registrars will allow an Admin contact and a tech contact. This allows for a technical person to deal with issues but the owner still has control and there is a way for issues tio be resoved if the owner of the domain is away/unavailable. – Dave M Nov 5 '09 at 15:49
@Dave: I'd still avoid the tech contact; unless you're part of the IT department for the business, you may move way or have a falling out and that will still tie you to them in some way. Sounds like the OP is doing this guy a favor as a personally I'd shy away from it. The owner can be responsible for running his business. How he treats marketing online is his concern, not for a good samaritan begging to be taken advantage of. (Do I sound jaded here?) – Bart Silverstrim Nov 5 '09 at 15:55
@Bart... Often true I guess. I was thinking from the perpective of the person acting as the tech support for the business. – Dave M Nov 5 '09 at 16:00
@Dave: I understand. I just know a guy who went into business with family and friends and was burned by it. I've seen people who have falling outs with others that they thought it wouldn't happen to. Just a matter of business is business...and tech people get taken advantage of way too easily in situations like the OP's, from the sound of the question. Situation now usually isn't the situation a few years from now :-) – Bart Silverstrim Nov 5 '09 at 16:03

Buy it in his name, but add yourself to the Technical Contacts.

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Bear in mind that if you buy it in his name (and address, and credit card, etc), he'll be the one to get all the renewal notices and stuff. Depending on how computer-illiterate he is, he may not realise that he's supposed to renew it, and the domain's registration will lapse. Alternatively, if you use your details instead, you'll be stuck with maintaining the domain.

Also bear in mind that WHOIS data is a regular target for address-harvesting, so you may not want to use your regular email address if you do decide to add yourself as a contact.

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Also bear in mind it's that guy's business and maintaining the site is a business expense... :-) There are services for maintaining long-term domains and reminders and such that can be set up. Depends on how professional the owner wants to be. I would think that a good business owner would also want to protect his name and site from being potentially hijacked by a discontented ex-web developer... ;-) – Bart Silverstrim Nov 5 '09 at 17:09
Very true, but I was worried that the phrase "hijacked by a discontented ex-web developer" may have no meaning to the client, except possibly as something involving angry spiders. I'm not saying that hsprogrammer shouldn't do it all for him, just to be aware of the longer-term implications. – RainyRat Nov 5 '09 at 18:05

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