A modern dental website can cost upwards of $2500. However, while most dental web design companies charge a one time fee, some firms offer websites for a nominal monthly fee. They put you on a 12 months contract that includes the website development, hosting and maintenance fee billed every month. Both these pricing structures have their advantages, but the key difference is control and ownership of the website.
Domain Name Ownership
You should always retain ownership and control of the domain name of your dental practice. Your domain is part of your branding and you have mentioned it in your advertising and marketing campaigns. Losing your domain name would render a lot of your printed marketing materials useless. All SEO work done on your domain will also be lost. If you have emails setup on your domain then you lose them as well if you lose your domain.
Therefore, in order to avoid any problems, you should always register the domain yourself and retain full control of your domain at all times. You never know when your web design firm goes out of business or you have a dispute with them or your contract is over and you want to switch to a new company. By retaining control of your domain you can simply direct it to a new web host and have a new website up and running within hours.
Website Code and Design Ownership
Your website uses some programming code to render the website layout, images and content to users accessing your domain name. You must own the rights to the entire website code so that you can edit the website as needed. This will allow you to edit your website design and code, use the same design for another office location and basically use your website as you wish without needing permission from anyone.
When you lease a website for a monthly fee, you do not have any ownership of the website design and code until you have paid the entire amount of the contract. This can be a problem in certain cases where you want to end the contract with your web design company.
Website Content Copyright Ownership
The content of your website includes all text, images and videos on your website. Make sure that you own the copyright of all your website content so that nobody else can use your office images or your website copy. This will also allow you to edit the content as needed.
In conclusion then, it is always better to get ownership of your dental website even if it requires a substantial upfront cost. You can always hire a company to maintain your website and manage SEO.