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Contingency Website Planning

  1. If the project fails, what plans do you have?
    Discovery, Creative:
  2. Who will develop and edit the response to the RFP?
    Definition, Business:
  3. What is the best process for interacting with your internal team?
    Definition, Creative:
  4. Will original artwork be used and is there a budget for it?
    Design, Business:
  5. Who are the client contacts who can assist with testing?
    Design, Creative:
  6. Are there specific guidelines in place for response time to clicks and queries?
    Design, Technical:
  7. Are there training plans for the users that must be accommodated?

What if Analysis

What would happen to your business if you were not able to tend to it tomorrow? Is there important information, key to the success of your business, that you have not communicated to the people who would inherit it or keep it running until you are able to return? If there is important information of this type then you need a contingency plan. Without a plan some of your most important assets might not be discovered, a fortune of value could be sold for peanuts, and someone important to you could waste lots of time and money reinventing your wheels or untangling a mess that you have left for them. I recently wrote a contingency plan for a website business.
And if you think of anything important that I forgot, please chime in via the comments so that we all can have a very complete blueprint to work from.
This document does not need to be a book. Mine was only four pages long and written in under two hours. It covered what I think are the most important topics. Here they are organized by category. Business Profile: This is a few paragraphs that describe your business, followed by a few paragraphs describing what you believe are the key elements of its success. For example, the things that should be held in place by the person who takes over when you are unable. How this is written and the level of detail depends upon who you expect to read this document and follow through.

Usability Testing

Ownership History:

This is a history of the primary assets of your business. For an important website it might trace the ownership from first registration to you. This type of information could be important if ownership is challenged. When I bought my main website I became the third owner and my attorney prepared a chain of title document that began with the original registrant, the second registrant and then to me. He had this document signed by each of the prior owners, each attesting that they properly and completely conveyed the property. My plan contains the name of my attorney and the location of the documents used to establish my ownership and prove payment.

Domain Registrar:

Where the domain is registered and the information needed to access the control panel. Also a clear explanation of why it is important to maintain the registration of the domain and how that can be done.


Where the domain is hosted and the information needed to access the control panel. How this is paid for and why it is essential to maintain this service. You could also include a description of the content management system used to maintain the site and how it can be accessed. Again the level of detail depends upon the experience of who will take over.


A description of the revenue model for the site, including a brief description of all income streams. This would include your adsense account, you affiliate partnerships, shopping cart provider, merchant account service, advertiser list, suppliers of your products, your fulfillment service. I nclude here a brief description of how these can be balanced for maximum income but also how they can be reconfigured for low effort income.

Intellectual Property Management:

An inventory of intellectual property assets and liabilities. Describe any valuable property that you have licensed to others who which has potential value for income. Also describe an obligations or limitations that you have for intellectual property (images, articles, software, etc.) that you have obtained or licensed from others.

Website Valuation:

Give your best estimate of the value of this asset and how it might best be sold, leased or partnered with others for income if you are unable. You may be able to suggest someone who could sell it for you or someone who might buy it. Do your best to put a value on it or provide a name of a person who could develop an appraisal.

Management versus Profit

Some websites produce income that requires a lot of management. A retail site requires inventory, shopping cart, pricing changes, merchant accounts, fulfillment. This type of site would require immediate management to keep the business going. On the other hand some adsense sites might be able to produce income for years and climb in the SERPs without any management at all. Think about this and write some ideas for whoever will take over.

Relationships Inventory:

This would be a list of the people involved in your business. Start with your business partners, employees, important contractors and best friends who could lend a hand or advise. Do not forget your attorney, accountant, and insurance agent. Include the names of key people who could be hired to take over some of the jobs that you currently do.

Keeping your website content Current:

This type of document is never finished. When you are finished with this first edition you should give it to at least one trustworthy person and place another copy with your will and other important papers. Revise it when important changes happen and spend an hour reading and revising about once a year. The few hours that it takes to write and revise this one document might save hundreds of hours of frustration and an awful lot of money. This document will help you care for the business that you have worked very hard to build and the people who are most important to you.
You will feel good when it is finished and the people who this document was written for will be very thankful that you cared enough about them to help when you are not available.