Old project, client reappears after 6 years


We completed a website for a client back in 2007 and his idea was to get his family to promote it locally to get the business model off the ground. After a year or so, things seemed to fizzle out and we didn’t hear from him. We had another website for him and he emailed us around 2009 to say it was no longer trading and to close it down.

At that point we contacted him to say that hosting was due on his other website domain and what did he want to do about it? We never got a reply.

We made several attempts to get a reply and never heard from him, so we thought he must have gone out of business.

We decided to keep hosting the website ourselves because the concept was good and we wanted to maintain Google traffic. We also paid all the domain renewals each year.

The client got in touch out of the blue recently and said they wanted to get going with the website again.

I met with one of them and they said that they wanted it to work differently and to start pay per click.

I reviewed all the features they had asked for and said it was going to be costly to alter the site to replicate a competitors features and suggested they start off with a more simple manual approach to the way they want to generate money.

They agreed but then said that they expected everything on the website to work and function as it should have in the beginning. I need to go back and ask what functions they mean, but this leads to the main questions for my thread.

  1. The CMS code is old and no one has looked at it or maintained it after the client lost contact. We don’t know what needs updating to get it fully working again.

  2. They are asking for design changes now or why pages are missing content. I explained that those pages were setup for them to supply their text but that it was left blank due to no content from them. They seem to think that this should all be covered or that the cost of removing any unwanted pages should be done by us.

  3. We need to address the issue of hosting and domain renewal costs that have been paid in their absence.

This us quite an unusual situation as most dead websites we let expire and archive.

Appreciate anyone’s views on the above.


Ultimately, you have to make sure it’s worth your while to do this, so make it clear what you are willing to do, write up a document that spells out what has been agreed to, and what will happen if more things are required etc.

If you think a new CMS is needed, just make that one of your criteria.

They seem to think that this should all be covered or that the cost of removing any unwanted pages should be done by us.

Forget about what they think. Write down what the actual facts are, which they can either sign or not. Simple. :slight_smile:

You have explained the situation clearly and concisely in your post. So you should give the client that same explanation, setting out all the points that you made to us. You should also quote a price for getting the site going again, according to their new criteria (you’ve probably already done all this).

If that doesn’t get you anywhere, you should seriously think about walking away. I’m sure that’s what I would do. The fact is that some clients are not worth having, and from you’ve told us, this is a good example.

The only point on which you stand on weak ground is that you chose to continue hosting the site. If the client agrees to your quote for the new work, it would be reasonable for them to pay for that hosting retrospectively. But if they don’t, just drop it, as you will find it hard to make a case for it.


Hi Ralph and Mike,

Many thanks to you for your replies, it’s great to bounce problems off fellow business people and get intelligent and experienced responses.

I take on board all your points and I plan to update this as I progress in case it’s helpful for anyone else.

Thanks very much to you both.


Cool. Good luck with it, and do let us know what happens. :slight_smile:

Excellent. I wish more people here would do that.

Good luck with this issue.