The Nitty-Gritty of Web Design Contracts
Nearly all web site design companies operate with contracts; it is a vital part of the business and you should be leery about any web designer who operates without one. Contracts protect you, they protect the website design company, and they outline how your project will unfold as well as the costs and guidelines. Quite honestly, if you are purchasing website design services without a contract, you have little-to-no protection for yourself or any way to defend your assumed rights in the event of a dispute with your design company. Bottom line – you really should have a contract for all web design work.
Necessary components of a website design contract
While contracts can come in every flavor under the sun, much like ice cream, it is important that a website design contract cover the following areas:
This one is a biggie – who has ownership rights to the website, the domain name, the images and the content on the website after the project is completed? Many people who seek out website design services automatically assume that they own the final product as well as the rights to it once they have paid for the project, but this is not the case in all situations.
Some web designers retain copyright to some or all of the completed project for portfolio purposes or other reasons, though it is not as common that a website design company will require ownership of your domain name.
Payments and costs
Payment schedules and overall costs should be outlined within the contract. This can include the down payment percentage, incidental costs and performance benchmarks that once met, will stipulate when future payments will be required.
Additionally, any costs for services such as logo design, content development (the words on your web pages), and hourly rates should be should be clearly specified within the contract.
Some website design companies provide after-the-fact support such as website updates and consultation. If a web design company offers these services, the pricing should be outlined and placed within the contract so that everything is known up front.
Timelines set by the company should give you an accurate portrayal of the overall time required for the project to be completed. In addition to that, there should generally be consequences for the web design company if they fail to meet the pre-determined timelines, provided the delays were their fault. Now, the company should not be liable for delays due to your lack of response or your delay in reviewing their work, but this a point that should be included in the contract.
Bottom line – a web design contract is something that is necessary. Moreover, the more difficult your project is, the more comprehensive the contract should be. Now, you may be able to risk a few hundred dollars while playing Russian roulette with the rights to your website and your time, but the best advice is to work with a contract, regardless of how much money you will be spending on your website’s design.