Individuals should use a web design services contract if they:

  • Want to contract a web design freelancer, or company, to design/develop a website for them
  • Are website designers that provide web design/programming services to other parties

A website design contract can help web designers stay on track. If you design the best website in the world but you do not have the right paperwork, it may amount to nothing.

In order to succeed as a web designer, you must first recognize that you are a business owner and that means taking care of the basics. You must continually find ways to bring in new clients through word of mouth, introductions by former clients, advertisements, etc. However, new clients would want a formal arrangement in addition to your skills as a website designer.

Characteristics of a Web Design Contract

A website design contract helps take care of things on the business side of things, allowing you to concentrate on the creative side. A comprehensive web design contract should cover the following legal and project aspects including:

  • The scope of the entire project as well as a definition of the various phases.
  • The acceptance tests for each phase — This refers to the kinds of acceptance tests that will be undertaken by the client after each development phase. This provides a basis for the agreement between the contractor and the client ensuring that the website conforms to the specifications stipulated in the original website design.
  • Contract clauses detailing the inclusion of any third-party products. The fees for such products must also be included in the payment terms.
  • Project management — Each side must allocate a project manager to facilitate efficient and prompt communication during the duration of the project.
  • A payment and changes clause.
  • Website content — The kinds of site content to be provided by the client.

Other legal terms that should be present in the contract include:

  • Severance
  • Publicity
  • Notices
  • Audit
  • Assignment
  • Confidentiality
  • Force majeure
  • Data protection
  • Term and termination
  • Intellectual property rights
  • Warranties
  • Limitation of liability and remedies
  • Variation and waiver
  • Third-party rights
  • Governing jurisdiction and law

Essential Elements of a Web Design Contract

The following are the essential elements that must be present in a web design services contract:

  • Summary of the work/project to be undertaken
  • A clear scope of the work/project
  • The agreement between the two parties
  • The design elements that must be included
  • Text content for the site design project
  • The party responsible for providing videos, photography, and other such content as well as the ownership of the copyrights for these content
  • The party responsible for JavaScript, CSS, HTML and other such coding elements
  • The party responsible for undertaking browser testing on various platforms including desktop, tablet, mobile, etc.
  • Whether technical support will be provided. If so, the contract should include the period of time as well as any extra charges such services may incur.
  • The party that will own the intellectual property rights and copyrights of the coding and design elements.
  • Schedule of payments
  • Communication protocols

Examples of web design contract template

1. Contract Killer

Created by Stuff and Nonsense, Contract Killer is an open source contract for web developers and designers. It has been in use since 2008 and its last revision was done in 2016. The template is easy to understand and details all of the necessary essentials for a web design agreement. It also contains clauses for revisions, changes, browser testing, and SEO.

2. AIGA Standard Form

The AIGA's template is very detailed and exhaustive. It is comprised of two main modules, one contains intellectual property rights while the other contains terms and conditions. Individuals can also add supplementary modules for design principles. Basically, the AIGA template is a comprehensive agreement that clearly details the responsibilities, and rights of the contracting parties as well as the terms and conditions to which the contract is subject to.

3. Andy Rutledge's Project Contracts

Andy Rutledge's contract template contains terms and conditions and what he refers to as “Authorization to Proceed.” This is a list of all the necessary project details including sign-offs, payments, budgets, timeline, deliverables, and project scope. It's a comprehensive contract template that allows for modification of clauses for better customization of specific project needs.

If you need help with web design services contract, you can post your legal need on the UpCounsel marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5% of attorneys/lawyers on its site. Attorneys on UpCounsel come from prestigious law schools like Yale Law and Harvard Law and usually have 14 years of legal experience, including work on behalf of or with companies like Airbnb, Menlo Ventures, and Google.