Always Get it in Writing
You did it! You found a web designer. Before you get to working on your site, you need to take a moment to cement your expectations with the designer. Next, those expectations need to be established in a legally binding web design contract between the two of you. Then, once everything is understood, you’ll take your first steps to working with one another.
Plotting the future
I’m going to assume that you’ve ensured your designer has backed up the claims of their abilities. I’m also assuming that you’re hiring a freelancer here. Full-time hiring practices are pretty typical and will not be covered here. With those considerations otu of the way, you should now find yourself setting up a timeline and a budget.
Although you can set a “needs to be completed by” date it’s usually a strong sign of an experienced freelancer to provide a project plan for your site. This should include an expected completion date, their understanding of your wants, project milestones, payment dates, penalties for work milestones not being met (or payment milestones), what technologies they will utilize and any expected (or unexpected) costs that might occur during development.
Additionally, it is in this phase that questions of ownership might come to the surface. It’s a common misconception that paying someone for their services should entitle you to ownership of everything created during that process. However, a designer may retain ownership of certain works within the project. Here are some items it is important for you to talk to your designer about:
- Stock photography
- Specialized coding
- Who retains ownership of the materials if the working relationship is terminated
Should I do the web design contract? Or should they?
A professional freelancer should handle this aspect of the transaction themselves. Considering their experience, they should be able to provide you with the proper agreements. Like all contracts, ensure that they walk you through it, and if you are confused, it may be worthwhile to have the contract reviewed by a paralegal.
For more information, and resources, Smashing Magazine provides an exhaustive list here.
Is the hassle worth it?
I’ve heard this question often: why do we need a web design contract? Isn’t a bill enough? The short answer is: no, it’s not. If you are serious about your project, and the designer is too, then a contract should be nothing more than proof of that. Cutting corners at this stage should be considered a warning flag for things to come. Without a contract you are opening yourself up to a world of hurt.
Return in two weeks when we discuss communication with your designer during the development stage and get one step closer to completing our dream site!