Are you a web designer? Or a business owner who is interested in website design agreements?
If you are a business owner, you understand that a company’s website is your online storefront. Your site is often the first thing potential clients see and informs their first impression of your business. The design of your website can also influence your search engine ranking, setting you apart from your competitors.
If you are reading this article, chances are you already understand the importance of good web design and want to know exactly what to look for in website design agreements to protect your interests.
While you will have slightly different needs depending on whether you are the purchaser of design services or the designer, there are a number of common contract issues you will want to familiarize yourself with:
1. Your web design contract should outline the scope of work, deadlines, and payment.
The “scope of work” section is the bread and butter of any service contract. Identify, in detail, all the deliverables, the deadlines for receipt of the deliverables, and when/how much payment is expected.
Scope of work is one of the greatest risks for dispute, so include as much detail as is possible in order to predict and steer clear of common disagreements. As a designer, you may want to specifically exclude certain design and development tasks that you have not included in your quoted price.
2. Your agreement should address warranties, disclaimers, and change orders.
Clearly describe any warranties or disclaimers being provider by the designer. For example…
- Does the designer warrant that all content used is royalty-free and you have full permission to utilize the content on your site?
- Does the designer warrant satisfaction? Does the designer want to limit liability for content that you may add to your website after the initial design is complete?
- Also consider how you will handle edits, change requests, or work that you would like to add that falls outside the original scope of work.
- Do not forget to address changes in deadlines and pricing that will occur due to the additional work.
3. Your agreement should discuss intellectual property (IP) ownership!
Do not assume you automatically have ownership of your website design (whether you are the designer or purchaser). Clearly address intellectual property ownership in your website design agreement.
First of all, you may have to pay to license certain content like stock photography or custom fonts. If you want exclusive ownership of the design elements used on your website so that your designer cannot create a similar website for competitors, you may have to negotiate a higher premium to ensure your content is not recycled for multiple clients.
When you find common ground on which elements a designer may recycle and which should be single-use only, be sure to commit your agreements to writing.
4. Your agreement should consider how you will handle disputes.
If service disputes were rare, there would hardly be a need for website design contracts.
Don’t fool yourself into thinking that a dispute won’t happen to you. Instead, proactively avoid disputes by determining how you will handle conflict from the start.
You should include a clause in your contract that outlines how disputes will be handled, whether you have a preference to use arbitration or mediation to save on court costs, and where your dispute will take place. You also want to state what laws will govern your agreement (such as, “the laws of the State of Texas” if your business is in Texas).
The last thing you want is to be summoned to an out-of-state court over a dispute that could otherwise be handled in your backyard.
Just as web design is unique and varies from client to client, so should your website design agreement. The look and functionality of your website is important to create the professional image you want your business to portray. Unfortunately, it is not hard to find low-cost web designers who will sell you a low-quality website. Don’t fall into this trap. Clarify your expectations from the outset to create a positive, working relationship with a professional web designer. Chances are, you will want to develop an ongoing relationship with your web designer so that your site will continue to stand out among competitors for years to come.
Finding high-quality web designers and creating a positive relationship starts with a rock-solid website design agreement. You’ve taken the first step by getting informed.
If you find that you are ready for the next step of drafting the contract, consider contacting an experienced Internet lawyer for recommendations, advice, and an honest review of your agreement.
At our Internet law firm, an experienced attorney can professionally review any website design agreements before you sign to make sure you are getting the best possible terms for your money. We also offer customized website design contracts for those that would like us to handle everything.
Either way, we’re in your corner. To get started, just schedule a phone consultation today.