Web Development and Design Without an Agreement
I recently read a survey (though I can’t remember the details) that showed a high number of web developers were conducting work with clients without a written agreement.
If you are a web professional doing this… Stop! I’m no lawyer, I’m simply advising this from a project management perspective.
The Basics of Any Website Development Agreement
It is important to have a detailed understanding of what is expected from both parties in order to avoid misunderstandings and disputes.
A website development/web design agreement is a contract between a web development company and its client. The agreement should outline the exact design and development services to be provided, the deliverables, timeline, and cost. It should also include hourly rates and other terms and conditions should the scope change once the project is started.
This type of agreement protects both parties involved by clearly defining the scope of work and expectations.
In order to create a website development agreement that will protect your interests, there are certain aspects that need to be considered.
Standard Website Development Agreement Checklist
- Project description: A clear and concise description of the project scope, objectives, and deliverables.
- Roles and responsibilities: Define the roles and responsibilities of both parties involved in the project.
- Schedule and timeline: Include a detailed project schedule and timeline, specifying milestones and deliverables.
- Payment terms: Outline when and how payments will be made, including any deposits, milestone payments, etc.
- Copyright and ownership: Make it clear who will own the copyright to the final product and who will have access to the source code.
- Confidentiality: Any information that is exchanged between both parties during the course of the project should be kept confidential.
- Termination: Describe under what circumstances either party can terminate the agreement and what the consequences will be.
By taking the time to create a detailed website development agreement, you can avoid many potential problems down the road.
Standard Web Development Agreement Out of the Way…
Let’s Talk About Client Responsibilities
The above sounds like standard contractual stuff and that is because it is.
When you’re putting together a website development agreement, it’s important to make sure that both parties are clear on their responsibilities.
It’s Not Just About the Service Provider’s Responsibilities
A lot of times, people focus on the service provider’s responsibilities and forget to include the client’s responsibilities in the agreement. This can lead to problems down the line if the client is not clear on what they need to do in order for the project to be successful.
To avoid any confusion, make sure that you include a section in your agreement that outlines the responsibilities of the client. This should include things like providing timely feedback, approving milestones, and supplying any content or assets that are needed. By including this information in the agreement, both parties will know what is expected of them and there will be no surprises down the line.
Including a client responsibility section in your website development/website design agreement will help to ensure that the project goes smoothly. Most importantly this will help ensure both parties are happy with the final product, and with each other.
Projects Run Smoother When the Client Understands Their Responsibilities
I have found projects tend to run much smoother if at the onset of the project an agreement is put into place. This agreement should not only describe exactly what will be delivered by my team but what the client’s responsibilities are as well.
For example, often a client will insist that a timeline be placed into an agreement. So as a web developer you promise that you will deliver a website in six weeks (for example).
You know you can design and build a website in that amount of time but of course, that is conditional on the following:
- If the client provides the final content in an organized fashion by a certain date.
- If the client provides all brand and media assets by a certain date.
- If the client provides feedback in a timely fashion.
- If the client stays within the scope of the original project.
- If the client’s IT team has hosting services set up and ready for launch.
That list could probably be much longer but the point is that building or conducting any project on the web is a multiparty system.
The developer/designer, though hired to deliver, cannot do their job if the client does not do their part.
Website Development Agreement Checklist for Clients
Here is a list of client responsibilities I try and give thought to when developing a project plan or agreement.
- In what timeframe will feedback be given in (include consequences to schedule if missed)?
- In what format will feedback be given (organized documents at certain milestones vs. piece mail)?
- When is the final content to be delivered?
- In what format will content be delivered?
- Any collateral such as software, stock art or fonts to be purchased by the client.
- Web hosting technical specs and requirements (if the service provider is not also providing hosting).
- What access to current systems will need to be granted by the client?
- What are the testing and review responsibilities and expectations of the client?
- What communication expectations are there of the client; How quickly will they provide clarification, details, and other information when needed during the project?
- When Payment is to be made and under what terms.