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Web Development Agreement basics

A Web Design Contract is between a business or individual and a freelancer, or small team of, web developers. Web Development Agreements cover the basics such as the parties involved and payment agreements, but they can also include detailed information about work and time restraints. This template can also be used to make mobile app development agreements.


Use the Web Development Agreement document if:

  • You're hiring a web developer for a website design project.
  • You're being hired as a web developer for a website development project.

Creating a website or updating a website is often simple, but communication issues are common, so a contract can help. A Website Contract not only covers financial agreements but also helps ease common pressure points and the time-management portion of the project.


Other names for this document:


Web Design Contract, Website Contract, Website Development Agreement, Freelance Web Design Contract


What is usually included in a Web Development Agreement?


The agreement itself is not complex and usually less than a page long. However, most are accompanied by less formalized supporting documents that outline exact expectations, timelines, payment schedules, change and approval processes, and testing and QA procedures.

At the core, most Web Design Contracts include:

Names of both parties

Most contracts include the names of the business and the freelancer or design company. The physical address of the business is usually included as well as the name of the project.

Retention of developer

This is basically a section that says the business agrees to work with named developer and the services to be contracted.

Description of services

In this section, the project is described broadly, the minute details of the project are usually included in a separate document.

Payment of services

This section explains the financial terms of the contract including agreed-upon hourly rates for specific roles.

Terms of termination

This outlines how either party can quit the contract. Sometimes this section will describe what happens if the web designer/developer does not deliver the product in a timely manner.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

While a Non-Disclosure Agreement can be a separate document, it needs to be included along with the other agreements. This agreement should be designed to protect proprietary information. It should be extended to everyone involved in the project.

Ownership

This might seem obvious, but it should be stated who owns the website and associated digital properties. It can also be important to note in the contract that the developer should not use any property owned by someone else to complete the work such as protected images.


Associated agreements


Often, before a contract is signed the details of the project are outlined and expectations are discussed. Related documents are often included alongside the contract. These documents usually include items such as schedules and milestones, payment dates and expectations, project and task management, issues and changes, and testing and QA procedures. These elements may be also be called project parameters. Smaller projects may not require extensive documentation.

Schedules and milestones

These are essentially due dates and success indicators, and generally cover both sides of the agreement. For example, the business may agree to provide branding materials, images or other digital media by a certain date, and a developer milestone might be something like, delivering a completed mobile app.

Payment dates and expectations

Payment information is often tied to milestones. In this way, web designers can receive partial payment before the entire project is completed. This is especially relevant to large, long-term projects.

Project and task management

Most business will use some type of project management technology to track tasks. It could be a free or paid service. Either way, the developer should have access to the portion of the project that relates to their work. If the developer uses a task management system, they might consider providing limited access to the business, as well.

Issues and changes

Changes are one of the most challenging parts of managing a new website launch. The documentation should include how people can raise issues or questions and how change requests are managed. Often the task management system will provide a way for tracking issues and changes.

Testing and QA

Before the website and or mobile app is released it should be thoroughly tested. You can create documents that outline testing procedures and methods of tracking. It should also be noted who is to perform the testing and how errors or bugs are reported.


Who provides the website design contract?


If you are the designer and work with small clients, you will likely be the one putting together the contract. Your client may not know what is involved in building a website and they will need to rely on your expertise to make sure everything is included. Advantages to making your own contract are that you can set realistic deadlines for yourself and can address common issues up front.

If you are a larger company and have experience working with contract workers, you may be the one making the Website Contract. Even if your business is making the documents, you will still benefit from consulting with the designer to make sure the unique needs of the project are met. If the agreement is lengthy and complicated, you'll want to ask a lawyer to review your web design contract.

Ideally, the contract is created together. Working together can make it easy for both parties to outline the tasks that need to be completed and set realistic deadlines. While the company many know what they want the end result to be, the designer likely has more experience with what it takes to get there.


Tips for web project success


Even simple websites can suffer from setbacks, obstacles and communication problems. Here are few things you can do to help ensure a smooth process.

Set realistic deadlines

Setting unrealistic milestone dates often creates a stressful situation resulting in subpar work and or missed deadlines. As a freelance designer, you'll want to hit deadlines the best you can. As the hiring company, you'll want to try to set reachable deadlines, while giving yourself some extra time should the project not finish on time.

Know what you want

If a company doesn't know what they want, a designer is not going to be able to successfully complete the website. Slow down and take time to research and outline what you want your website to do for you. It may be helpful to provide the designer some examples of what type of site you are looking to have created, including sample images and color schemes.

Get more than one bid

Once a business or individual needing the website knows what they want and has a solid idea about the scope of the project (work required, time involved, cost), they should request more than one bid. Some online services can not only help businesses find designers, but many can also sort bids.

Increase your budget

The old saying, “you get what you pay for” has some merit. The quality of work and expertise your business requires may cost more than the lowest bid. That doesn't mean you should take the highest bid, but be prepared to pay a bit more for experience. Also reserve room in your budget to cover unforeseen expenses.


Things to do after the website is complete


Websites need to be changed and updated periodically. You'll either need to do that yourself or hire a web developer to perform updates. If you are the web designer, you may be able to help the business owner understand ongoing needs of maintaining a website.

Final handover

When the work is complete the designer will need to give the business access to the website. This includes logins, passwords and account information.

Training

If you or your employees plan on updating the website or adding content, you may need training. Often businesses purchase from the design company training on how to perform simple updates.

Maintenance

Issues may arise well after the first rounds of testing occur. As an add-on to the original contract, you may include terms for maintaining the site. Simple charges could be billed at an hourly rate. If you need extensive work completed, you may want to create a new Web Development Agreement.


Sample Web Development Agreement

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Web Development Agreement basics

Creating a website or updating a website is often simple, but communication issues are common, so a contract can help. A Website Contract not only covers financial agreements but also helps ease common pressure points and the time-management portion of the project.


Other names for this document:


Web Design Contract, Website Contract, Website Development Agreement, Freelance Web Design Contract


What is usually included in a Web Development Agreement?


The agreement itself is not complex and usually less than a page long. However, most are accompanied by less formalized supporting documents that outline exact expectations, timelines, payment schedules, change and approval processes, and testing and QA procedures.

At the core, most Web Design Contracts include:

Names of both parties

Most contracts include the names of the business and the freelancer or design company. The physical address of the business is usually included as well as the name of the project.

Retention of developer

This is basically a section that says the business agrees to work with named developer and the services to be contracted.

Description of services

In this section, the project is described broadly, the minute details of the project are usually included in a separate document.

Payment of services

This section explains the financial terms of the contract including agreed-upon hourly rates for specific roles.

Terms of termination

This outlines how either party can quit the contract. Sometimes this section will describe what happens if the web designer/developer does not deliver the product in a timely manner.

Non-Disclosure Agreements

While a Non-Disclosure Agreement can be a separate document, it needs to be included along with the other agreements. This agreement should be designed to protect proprietary information. It should be extended to everyone involved in the project.

Ownership

This might seem obvious, but it should be stated who owns the website and associated digital properties. It can also be important to note in the contract that the developer should not use any property owned by someone else to complete the work such as protected images.


Associated agreements


Often, before a contract is signed the details of the project are outlined and expectations are discussed. Related documents are often included alongside the contract. These documents usually include items such as schedules and milestones, payment dates and expectations, project and task management, issues and changes, and testing and QA procedures. These elements may be also be called project parameters. Smaller projects may not require extensive documentation.

Schedules and milestones

These are essentially due dates and success indicators, and generally cover both sides of the agreement. For example, the business may agree to provide branding materials, images or other digital media by a certain date, and a developer milestone might be something like, delivering a completed mobile app.

Payment dates and expectations

Payment information is often tied to milestones. In this way, web designers can receive partial payment before the entire project is completed. This is especially relevant to large, long-term projects.

Project and task management

Most business will use some type of project management technology to track tasks. It could be a free or paid service. Either way, the developer should have access to the portion of the project that relates to their work. If the developer uses a task management system, they might consider providing limited access to the business, as well.

Issues and changes

Changes are one of the most challenging parts of managing a new website launch. The documentation should include how people can raise issues or questions and how change requests are managed. Often the task management system will provide a way for tracking issues and changes.

Testing and QA

Before the website and or mobile app is released it should be thoroughly tested. You can create documents that outline testing procedures and methods of tracking. It should also be noted who is to perform the testing and how errors or bugs are reported.


Who provides the website design contract?


If you are the designer and work with small clients, you will likely be the one putting together the contract. Your client may not know what is involved in building a website and they will need to rely on your expertise to make sure everything is included. Advantages to making your own contract are that you can set realistic deadlines for yourself and can address common issues up front.

If you are a larger company and have experience working with contract workers, you may be the one making the Website Contract. Even if your business is making the documents, you will still benefit from consulting with the designer to make sure the unique needs of the project are met. If the agreement is lengthy and complicated, you'll want to ask a lawyer to review your web design contract.

Ideally, the contract is created together. Working together can make it easy for both parties to outline the tasks that need to be completed and set realistic deadlines. While the company many know what they want the end result to be, the designer likely has more experience with what it takes to get there.


Tips for web project success


Even simple websites can suffer from setbacks, obstacles and communication problems. Here are few things you can do to help ensure a smooth process.

Set realistic deadlines

Setting unrealistic milestone dates often creates a stressful situation resulting in subpar work and or missed deadlines. As a freelance designer, you'll want to hit deadlines the best you can. As the hiring company, you'll want to try to set reachable deadlines, while giving yourself some extra time should the project not finish on time.

Know what you want

If a company doesn't know what they want, a designer is not going to be able to successfully complete the website. Slow down and take time to research and outline what you want your website to do for you. It may be helpful to provide the designer some examples of what type of site you are looking to have created, including sample images and color schemes.

Get more than one bid

Once a business or individual needing the website knows what they want and has a solid idea about the scope of the project (work required, time involved, cost), they should request more than one bid. Some online services can not only help businesses find designers, but many can also sort bids.

Increase your budget

The old saying, “you get what you pay for” has some merit. The quality of work and expertise your business requires may cost more than the lowest bid. That doesn't mean you should take the highest bid, but be prepared to pay a bit more for experience. Also reserve room in your budget to cover unforeseen expenses.


Things to do after the website is complete


Websites need to be changed and updated periodically. You'll either need to do that yourself or hire a web developer to perform updates. If you are the web designer, you may be able to help the business owner understand ongoing needs of maintaining a website.

Final handover

When the work is complete the designer will need to give the business access to the website. This includes logins, passwords and account information.

Training

If you or your employees plan on updating the website or adding content, you may need training. Often businesses purchase from the design company training on how to perform simple updates.

Maintenance

Issues may arise well after the first rounds of testing occur. As an add-on to the original contract, you may include terms for maintaining the site. Simple charges could be billed at an hourly rate. If you need extensive work completed, you may want to create a new Web Development Agreement.

Use the Web Development Agreement document if:
  • You're hiring a web developer for a website design project.
  • You're being hired as a web developer for a website development project.
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