If you’re looking to hire a web designer, you may think that the finished website is the most important part of the website. You’re probably super restless to get your new site up because you basically needed it done yesterday.
I get it.
But before you begin on any other step that brings you closer to your shiny new website, you need to make sure you’ve handled the boring legal stuff first. (and it’s only boring if everything goes smoothly!)
Let me explain…
A good web designer will already have some form of service agreement or contract in place with all of their terms detailed clearly.
If they don’t have a contract, that is a warning sign that they either don’t have very much experience or they’re not concerned with protecting you or themselves from potential misunderstandings and even legal action.
P.S. This is one of things I discuss in my FREE mini course, How To Find the Right Web Designer –> SIGN UP HERE
The first thing you must do before starting work on a project and especially before paying anyone is to sign a contract.
Now, before you do that, it’s imperative that you’ve read and understood the terms in that contract.
Here are some things you’ll want to look for in a web design contract:
Statement of Work:
The statement of work describes the details of the project and the desired results. This could look something like:
This project includes design for a web site for use by [Client Name]. This project will follow the timeline outlined below, which a goal launch date of [Launch Date].
Scope of Work:
The scope of work goes into more detail of what exactly is included within the project. For a web design contract, designers will usually specify what they will be designing and how many rounds of revisions are included. As a client, it’s important to note how many revision rounds are included, since extra revisions outside of this scope of work will most likely be charged at an hourly rate. This is something you’ll want to make sure if clarified in the contract.
Here is an excerpt from a scope of work:
This project includes the creation of designs for the visual aesthetic, layout and functionality of your web site. This contract includes designs for 4 pages, plus the opportunity for you to make up to two rounds of revisions for each page.
It may seem obvious, but you’ll want to make sure that the project fee is explicitly stated according the agreed upon terms. Will the project be done for one overall fee or will the work be charged at an hourly rate?
Also make sure that the payment schedule is outlined. Is the full payment due upfront or is half due at the beginning and the remaining balance due upon delivery of the finished designs?
This is also where the designer will likely specify their terms regarding the possibility of extra charges resulting from work that was requested that was “out of scope.” If the project allows for two design revisions and you asked for a third, you may be charged at an hourly rate for this extra time.
Copyrights & Credits:
You’ll want to know upfront how the designer deals with copyrights of the finished product. This is actually an often-debated topic in the web design world, partially due to developers wanting to remain the owners of the code that goes into turning the designs into a functional website. Typically, the ownership of the actual designs are handed over to the client at the end of the project.
Many web designers, me included, land new clients through referrals. A huge reason for this is having our link at the bottom of websites we’ve designed. For this reason, a lot of web designers will have a clause in their contract reserving the right to display this link on your finished website. If you want/need a specially arrangement, be sure to discuss with the designer before signing the contract.