How to Protect Your Company with a Website Design Agreement

website design agreementOne of the biggest Internet problems small business owners face today is the failure to use a comprehensive written website design agreement when building a professional-looking online presence for their companies.

Remember that a verbal agreement or a series of emails that are vague can lead to unrealistic expectations as to what is going to be delivered and the costs involved for website design.

Of course, any agreement is only as good as the parties involved. A dishonest website designer will likely sign anything with no intention of delivering as promised.

Before signing a website contract, small business owners should perform due diligence by reviewing prior sites put together by the designer. Don’t let the designer cherry pick a few good ones. Instead, ask for a list of at least 10 websites and pick from those which ones you want to review both for quality and for references. Just because a site looks good doesn’t mean the business owner(s) didn’t go through hell getting the website designer to perform.

In addition, never take at face value a website designer’s claim that there’s a “standard contract” that’s non-negotiable. Ideally, small business owners will want to use their own website design contracts with terms that are fair but favorable to the owners.

If you accept a designer’s “standard design agreement,” chances are the contract’s terms heavily favor the designer or alternatively is a document patched together by the designer without the input of an Internet business attorney, i.e. there’s probably legal risks if you sign it.

Of course, you’ll also want to make sure your website has a professional grade privacy policy and other website legal documents regardless of the design you pick. Don’t rely upon your designer to provide these legal documents because that’s likely unauthorized practice of law by a non-lawyer.

Here’s a few issues you will want to discuss with the Internet lawyer who is drafting your website design agreement.

1. How to structure payment terms to encourage performance by the designer.
2. How to protect your business’ intellectual property while at the same time providing the designer access to technology and content needed to create a professional website for your company.
3. How to set up the website hosting to protect your company’s data and ownership of the content.
4. Whether it makes sense to incorporate ongoing website maintenance into the website design agreement.
5. How to resolve disputes between you and the designer.

By using a website design agreement drafted by your Internet attorney to get you what you really want, you’re saving yourself time, money, and preventing legal headaches.