Contracts aren’t often taught alongside design courses, but as a freelance web designer, you have to focus not only the quality of your work, but also the quality of your business. Managing relationships with and expectations from clients is essential to the success of any freelance designer, and a quality web design contract is one of the most important steps in that process. A well-drafted web design contract not only puts you and your client on the same page, but also protects you from any issues or unreasonable requests during the course of the relationship.
Scope of Work, Milestones and Deadlines
The contract must first clearly define what is, and what is not within parameters of the project. Because projects can often be fluid and evolving, the scope might change as you work with your client to define what they want. Your contract should anticipate this by including options for expanding the scope of work if necessary, along with when and how to charge for additional services should clients request them.
It’s also a good idea to be mindful of the milestones you set in order to track progress. This process will also allow you to structure your workflow and streamline client interactions. Map out all the places you’ll need approvals and build in checkpoints requiring the client to sign-off before proceeding to the next phase. You can also agree to an appropriate limit on revisions to decrease delays, and lay out additional costs if previously approved phases need to be changed.
Because web design is a collaborative process with work being fulfilled on both sides, it’s crucial for both you and the client to set deadlines and responsibilities early on. Clearly define not only when to submit your own work, but also when you’ll need copy, images or other deliverables from the client; and what happens if either of you are late. Building in accountability beforehand can help you cut down on delays or avoid an unwelcome time crunch as you move through a project.
Protections for Freelance Web Designers
Beyond standard liability protections, there should also be specific terms around payment and what constitutes project completion. There are many ways a project could be delayed, but if your own work is completed and the copy for the site is still pending, this shouldn’t impact your ability to be compensated for your efforts. Additionally, you can also set a payment date around the estimated completion time to give both you and the client a set window of time for completion and payment.
Why You Shouldn’t Rely on a Web Design Contract Template
Web design contract templates are a great way to get ideas, but it can be tricky relying on a template to include all the things that you need. Each contract is unique to the needs of the business or project so using a template may omit crucial details. And as you can see, it’s best to see a web design contract as a way to start the conversation about how to collaborate most effectively with your client during the course of the project. No contract will cover every eventuality, so your best protection will always be a positive relationship with your client based around mutual respect.
Contact a Contract Lawyer
Whether you are constructing a web design contract or another formal agreement between yourself and another party, you should rely on the expertise of a contract lawyer. LawTrades is happy to connect you with a seasoned contract attorney. Our options include a regular flat rate payment, or if you need ongoing legal services, you may be interested in our subscription-based legal plans. Contact us today to see which option is right for you.