How to Build a Great Web Design Contract

How to Build a Great Web Design Contract

On the surface, it seems simple enough to create a web design
contract. You just find a boilerplate web design contract or a
template and edit to your heart’s content, right?

Well, not exactly. You see, not all web design contracts are
created equal, and using a free website design contract you pulled
off the web might not give you all of the legal protections
you’re rightfully entitled to. And while we’re not lawyers (we
are, however, fantastic
web designers
), knowing what a great web design contract should
contain is the first step toward making sure yours is as ironclad
as possible.

With that being said, you should always consult a lawyer who is
well-versed in contracts before you jump right in. Now, let’s
take a closer look at the components that make up a great web
design contract:

Outlining the Scope of the Project

Every
professional web developer
dreads those two little words that
signify that a project is going to go on a lot longer than
anticipated — “scope creep”. This is when clients (sometimes
intentionally, sometimes not) ask for more than what was initially
agreed to. In other words, the scope of the project creeps up
little by little, nibbling away at your time and profits.

A proper web design contract will outline exactly what’s
expected and what will be delivered, and by when. Then, if the
client starts asking for additional things, you can always fall
back to the contract and demonstrate that to add these things will
add to the cost and delivery time, putting the ball back in the
client’s court to determine if this is something they really want
to move ahead with or not.

All the Little Things

There are lots of little things that often get missed, even in
the most thorough web design contracts. These include things
like:

  • Who is providing the content for the website? Will the client
    be providing this? Will a third party copywriter or content writer
    be brought on board? Will the designer be responsible?
  • What about debugging the code? There can sometimes be hiccups
    with regard to coding and proper implementation. Who is responsible
    for this?
  • Who is going to test the design on various browsers and mobile
    devices to determine its responsiveness to various screen sizes and
    load times?

Making it clear who is responsible for which part of the
contract (and then getting them to sign off on it) now will help
save a lot of headaches later.

Testing, Tweaking and Technical Support

Even the most flawless website design contract needs to
incorporate what will happen after the work is completed.
Oftentimes, there will be updates with various plugins and
integrations, and tests that need to be performed in order to
ensure that the site is performing as well as it can be under
various conditions.

Sometimes, clients opt to have their design team handle ongoing
maintenance and tech support, updating the site and adding new
features as time goes by. Including this in your contract, as well
as specifying what will be done by the design team and what will be
handled by the client) can help provide an additional and lucrative
stream of income for your web development agency, month after
month.

What if I Need to Make Changes?

Web design contracts are often saved in PDF format for easy
portability across platforms and devices. PDF files can also be
designed to be filled in with relevant information such as dates
and addresses. They can also be programmed to accept electronic
signatures. PDF is an older format that has stood the test of time
while new features have become available to make using them even
more convenient.

But one of the things that has always presented difficulty when
considering web design contracts is making changes. Fortunately,
there are several tools available to help
edit a PDF
on PC and Mac, even after you’ve saved it.

And keep in mind that a contract is only the first step. Keep
the lines of communication open between you and your client while
providing them with ongoing updates to show progress on their
project. This allows you the freedom and flexibility to allow a
designer-client business relationship to flourish while enjoying
the strong foundation of a contract that’s built-in everyone’s
best interest.

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