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5 Tips When Drafting a Web Design Contract

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

Almost every business needs a website, and Web design is one of many jobs that a small business owner can easily outsource.

But with an army of potential Web designers vying for the job, you'll want to keep these five tips in mind when drafting a Web design contract:

1. Carefully Define the Scope of Work.

One of the key features of any contract is what kind of work it actually calls upon the contract worker to perform. Don't be general about the Web design job, make sure to specifically include:

  • The creation of a functional website to your specifications;
  • A duty to edit, troubleshoot, or repair your website during the creation process and for a limited period of time afterwards; and
  • The right to make changes at your (the business owner's) direction.

A properly drafted Web design contract will also make it clear that your chosen Web designer is considered an independent contractor and not an employee.

2. Payment Terms Based on Performance.

One payment arrangement that can work well for small businesses is to set payments in terms of performance milestones (e.g., drafts, the website going live, etc.). Also be sure to budget a set amount of hours for edits and revisions.

Payment for any changes or revisions that need to be made past the budgeted time can be negotiated as you and the designer see fit.

3. Include a Non-Disclosure Agreement.

In designing your company's website, your contract worker may be privy to data or information you don't want being shared. A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) can be easily attached to a Web design contract to make sure your designer keeps his or her lips sealed even after the contract is complete.

4. Define Rights Over Work.

A design contract should make it clear that the website and all its elements and copy are work "made for hire." This distinction will cement that the designer has no legal copyright claim over your business' website.

5. Prepare for Potential Trouble (Just in Case).

Your business doesn't run on your Web designer's schedule, so you'll want to spell out what happens if the website is not yet finished or abandoned by the time you need it. If your designer flakes or misses a deadline, you can have a liquidated damages provision that will reduce any future payments -- as long as it is reasonable.

If you need any help finalizing your Web design agreement, contact an experienced contracts attorney today.

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