If you are an agency or a brand, when it comes to web design, there’s really only two things that matter: form and function. And that’s precisely what you’ll end up asking of your web designers, as well. And unless you can define clearly what’s expected from their design — flow of information, the expectation from all artwork, interactions — things have a way of turning awry very quickly. Only a matter of time then that you’ll start to face more speed bumps than milestones. And in hopes of quick wins, you’ll end up making more compromises with the design than desirable.
Speaking of, let’s say you are the designer. And you are the best thing to exist on Behance. And because you are this good, you need to pay attention to your web design contracts as well. In the interest of protecting your own assets and ensuring effective use of time and energy, it’s essential for you to establish clarity on the deliverables — quantity and quality both. Or, with help from your contracting agent, at least draw the boundaries around the scope of work, price, timelines, iterations, and copyrights.
Either way, a well-penned web design contract is critical to any web design project, for both the contracting entity as well as the designer. And to help both parties make the best out of an arrangement, we’ve compiled some essentials that need to be made a part of every web design agreement. The nuances of each may vary from project to project, but this list, at the very least, should equip you — both the contracting agent and the designer — with the knowledge of what’s imperative to the design contract, including some of the questions you need to ask in lieu of it.
Please note that our recommendations are for information purposes only and not to be taken as legal advice.
1. A brief summary of the project. Avoid verbose descriptions of it, instead choosing to highlight the reasons behind it, the motivations, the expectations and the outcomes desired.
2. A comprehensive note on the scope of work and timelines. The idea is to establish the boundaries of work and set the right kinds of expectations — around quality and quantity of deliverables — right from the start.
3. A clear mention of the design elements expected. Is the designer required to start by readying some design guidelines or are they required to improve on an existing one?
4. If, say, interactions are to be worked into the design. If so, what should the designer keep in mind?
5. If the designer is responsible for buying and collecting visual assets such as images, photographs, and illustrations. And the protocols around stock photos, if any, and the license ownership of these images.
6. A clear mention of who will handle the coding part of the design. Few designers tend to create and code, both.
7. If the designer will do the coding, then for how long will they be willing to offer technical support in lieu of it, and charges involved. Getting a page up-and-ready on the site takes a lot of collaboration and iterations between tech and design, and at every step of the way.
8. If the designer is required to conduct browser and device testing as well.
9. Schedule of payments and invoice best practices.
10. If the charges include a certain number of iteration requests.
11. How will the transfer of files and assets be handled? And if a process can be set up around it to make the transaction seamless.
12. And finally, a clear note on who will own the copyrights and intellectual property of the code and designs at the end of the project.
Contracts are and must be an essential part of any work arrangement, and web design projects are no different. It helps set clear expectations and ensure the interests of both the parties involved are protected. If you have never worked with contracts before, take a look at some of the web design contract templates available online or get a fellow designer to help you with theirs. Involve a lawyer if you are unsure and would like a relevant person to review any contracts or legal documents you wish to use for your business.
A successful project is one where everybody involved manages to deliver everything that they sign up for and in sync with the expectation set from day one.
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