If there is one thing which most freelancers don’t give enough attention to – it’s that pesky web design contract! We do understand your pain. The admin/legal work is boring, takes away from “productive” and billable time and sometimes it seems just like overhead.
Why do you need to “cover your ass” with a contract? (We say this in the best sense of the word ;-))
Because, you’ll be kicking yourself, however, when things start to go wrong.
In reality, when you enter into a legal agreement with somebody, the most important part of that agreement or contract is what happens when there is a disagreement. Your web design contract should have ways of dealing with stuff such as:
- What happens when things go wrong with the website design project?
- What happens if the client does not like a final design that had been approved? Are revisions allowed? How many revisions?
- What happens when timelines are missed?
- What happens if payments are missed?
- What happens if bugs are discovered on the website 1 year down the line?
- Will there be a length of time when bugs will be fixed free of charge?
- Who owns the design / development of the website?
- Who is responsible to keep a copy of the website after the project ends?
- What happens if the client wants to fire you?
- What happens if you want to fire your client?
These are all worst-case scenarios that you don’t really want to think about. But if you act all “nice” and don’t put in an agreement about disagreements, you’ll be royally screwed when you can’t agree on a way forward. That’s why a web design contract is important.
And trust us. It’s only a matter of time when you start hitting those bumps in your project.
- Clients wanting more than initially agreed in the project,
- clients not doing their part in the development and design of the new website,
- problems with payments.
And suddenly you’re spending MORE time fixing the problems which a few good contracts would have spared you the hassle of. So to save you from this hassle, we’ve compiled this awesome bundle of all the web design contract templates and sample web design agreements you’ll ever need.
- Download the Web Design Contract Template bundle
- What is a web design contract?
- What should it contain?
- Are these contracts legally enforceable?
- Web Design Contract Templates
- 1. Contract Killer by Andy Clarke
- 2. Project Acceptance Form and / or Statement of Work
- 3. The AIGA Standard form of agreement for Web Design services
- 4. Web Design Client Questionnaire
- 5. Website Design Agreement Contract tool
- 6. Contract for contracting (Independent / Freelance) development services
- 7. Andy Rutledge Design Project Contracts bundle
- 8. Web Design and Development services contract
- 9. Short Form Web design Contract
- 10. Work for hire / Retainer agreement
- 11. Non-Disclosure Agreements
- 13. Mobile Application Development Contract
- 15. Invoicing clients
- 16. Collection of dues
- 17. Cease and Desist
- Besides contracts – what about Tools for Web Designers?
- Download Web Design Proposal Templates
- Hey Web Designer – your contract is sorted! Want to manage your projects better?
- One last thing…
- Conclusion: Which web design contract template will you use?
Download the Web Design Contract Template bundle
If you want you can download the free website design contract template in Word (.docx) or PDF format.
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What is a web design contract?
A web design contract is a legally binding agreement between a client and a supplier. It includes pricing, design scope, schedule of deliverables (like mockups or actual designs), payment schedule, intellectual property rights, and other legal terminology. Most importantly it should include terms about what will happen in case of problems or disagreements.
What should it contain?
At BeeWits, we believe that whatever form it may take, a website contract or agreement should have a number of essential elements. While these may vary, they should be a necessary part of any contract. As a web designer just starting out, your best bet is to take *hints* from website design contract templates you download online. But you should definitely create a legal agreement which you can call your very own. Something that protects the rights of all parties while meeting the conditions and obligations for work.
So what are the essential elements of a web design contract?
- Summary of the project or work to be undertaken
- Clear scope of the project or work
- What are both parties agreeing to do?
- What are the design elements that are included in the contract
- Is the text content of the web design project included or not?
- Who will provide photography, videos and who will own the copyrights? Are purchased (or free) stock photos acceptable? Should images used have a particular license or not?
- Will browser testing be performed on all platforms, and then make any changes necessary?
- Who will provide different (responsive) device browsers testing (desktop vs tablet vs mobile) and who will be responsible for any changes?
- Will technical support be included in the contracted period? For how long? Will there be any extra charges under specific conditions?
- Who is responsible for changes and revisions
- Any legal stuff recommended by your lawyer
- Who will own the copyrights and intellectual property of the code and designs?
- How will payments be made and the schedule of payments
- How the transfer of information will be handled
- The dotted line – signature and dates when the agreement comes into effect
- Terms and Conditions
Are these contracts legally enforceable?
Strictly speaking, all that is necessary for a web design contract to be legally binding are the following two basic elements:
- All parties are in agreement to the contract (hence the signatures) where an offer has been made by one party and accepted by the other
- Something of value has been exchanged, typically cash, services or goods/assets for something else of value (money in exchange for services in this case)
However, given that we are not lawyers ourselves, should you want somebody to give you professional advice. BeeWits recommends Rocket Lawyer.
Rocket Lawyer is an online legal service company that connects people to the legal help they need (without breaking the bank in the process). The beauty of this service is that they have thousands of easy-to-create legal documents, quick access to independent local attorneys, and much more.
If you’re interested in having a look at the rest of the documents available, read on!
Incidentally, as a web designer, you might want to look at this fantastic communication tool for your website projects.
It’s incredibly effective when it comes to pitching and communicating with a client to communicate with them directly on the website or result you expect to produce for them.
If you use a product such as Project Huddle to mockup and comment on the pages directly. Your client is much more likely to have a clearer picture of what the end result would look like and is much more likely for the project to be completed successfully.
Even if you have shown that you will be using such a tool when the project agreement has been signed, the client will feel that they will have a direct input and good line of communication with you, putting their mind at rest on a number of concerns.
Web Design Contract Templates
This web design contract is a bit of a simplistic in the way it is written but is great in terms of understanding.
It doesn’t really use a lot of legal terms or things that most people who are not lawyers (such as web designers) wouldn’t have a clue about, but it’s a contract nonetheless. So if you want to keep it simple, friendly, whilst still having a binding agreement, you can work with this one.
This is why it is called a “contract killer”, because it is a contract, that doesn’t feel like a contract.
It loosely binds both parties to reasonable terms.
If you’re looking for something which has much more legalese, or legal terms and conditions, the Contract Killer might not be ideal, so you might want to move on.
2. Project Acceptance Form and / or Statement of Work
The Project Acceptance Form is for those who want to state much more explicitly exactly what is going to be delivered and (what isn’t). It has various tables with web design works that will be delivered including as part of the website contract.
Of course, you can add more as necessary.
- Design and development
- Copywriting and content population of (defined) number of pages
- Post-launch online marketing (for post web design services)
- Milestones and timelines
- Support and Maintenance agreement
- Small print – legal rigmarole
It also contains specific sections regarding the exact payment terms. If you are looking for a complete web design contract – this would be definitely one to look at for web design freelancing work. In reality, this could be part of a bundle of documents you agree to with the client.
Possibly, your web design contract could actually reference the Statement of Work when it defines the work that needs to be delivered to the client.
3. The AIGA Standard form of agreement for Web Design services
Whilst this is a fairly old document, this guide towards creating your own custom boilerplate is very thorough. Despite its years is still relevant in this day and age.
Rather than being a one-size-fits-all approach, or being an actual contract for web which you can change to suit your needs, this is a guide such that designers and design firms create their documents as necessary for them, including terms and conditions as appropriate.
Once you’ve read through this and followed the guidance, you’ll have created your custom legal documents, with your own terms and conditions that you can reuse for each design project which comes along.
This a great option for web designers who would like to create a web design contract template that they can reuse for the long term.
Of course, if you want to do a superb job, besides a good web design contract template, you’ll want to know what the client would like exactly.
It is essential and crucial to understanding what the customer needs so that you can then create a design contract that includes an SoW based on what the client will actually need.
The way we like to do it is to send a very comprehensive questionnaire to the client. This probes the client on what the website or web design work is all about. Work should not commence before this questionnaire has been completed and completely understood by the freelancer.
The questionnaire has such pertinent questions about the company as:
- Why do you want this site?
- What user demographics will the website target?
- Which direction do you want your company to go towards?
And more website-specific questions such as what special features will be included in the website (newsletter, blog, video streaming, online store etc.)
So while this is not, strictly speaking, a legal document, it’s still something which is going to make your contract much easier to agree to.
(Extra Extra! – are you also looking for a website checklist to make sure you’ve covered all of the things you need to do? We’ve got your back!)
This is not a web development contract. But if you use this tool, you will create a web development contract as a result.
It’s for USA residents only, so if you’re not based in the US, move along to the next website design contract. We’ve got quite a few on this list, so don’t you worry 🙂
6. Contract for contracting (Independent / Freelance) development services
As a freelancer or agency, you’re very likely to be outsourcing work to various other contractors. Of course, just like you need to have contracts in place with your clients, you’ll want to have a good understanding in place with your contractors.
Here are a couple of versions that you might want to opt for.
The contract for development services is a statement that is essentially an agreement of a rate per hour or project fee (you choose). It also transfers intellectual property/copyright to the clients while retaining rights for generic coding solutions, unless they are specific to the Clients product.
7. Andy Rutledge Design Project Contracts bundle
Another project contracts bundle.
This time from Andy Rutledge, this bundle contains an “Authorization to Proceed” template and “Terms & Conditions” template. They’re quite complete in scope, so they’re great for usage as a web design contract, or as a starting point for your contracts.
8. Web Design and Development services contract
This contract (originally by BidSketch) is a fully-fledged web design contract that sorts out all the aspects of the web design and development process. If you’re looking for a bullet-proof web development or letter of agreement, this is the one you should be using.
It might take some time to complete, but it covers all project and legal aspects including
- Project scope including the definition of various phases
- Acceptance tests per phase. An agreement that Acceptance tests will be run by the client after each phase of development. This ensures that both the client and the contractor have agreed that the site has passed acceptance tests conforming to the original website specifications
- Contract clause for the inclusion of 3rd party products including the fee of these products as part of the terms of payment
- Project management. The allocation of a project manager on both sides such that communication is prompt and efficient during the website project
- Changes and Payment clause
- Site content. Inclusion of website content provided by the client
Other full Legal terms in this include
- Limitation of remedies and liability
- Intellectual property rights
- Term and termination
- Data protection
- Force majeure
- Entire Agreement
- 3rd party rights
- Variation and waiver
- Governing Law and jurisdiction
A very comprehensive development agreement if there ever was one.
Download the Contract template pack now
9. Short Form Web design Contract
There’s also the web design contract for web developers who hate contracts. Just like the one from Andy Clarke, this is also quite a simple document that still binds both you and the client. Even quick and short jobs have the potential to turn nasty, for example with constant toing and froing of revisions and changes.
So for your own sake, fill in this contract for web designers which does a few simple but essentials things such as limit the number of revisions to a specific amount, specifies an upfront fee (or deposit), payment terms and pro-rated fees in the event of cancellations.
10. Work for hire / Retainer agreement
If you’re good enough to have been able to get a retainer for your work, you’ll still want to put a simple contract in place. It gives peace of mind to both parties since it specifies the retainer fee, the monthly hours and any additional services rendered.
Work done on a retainer should still be bound by a good web design contract.
11. Non-Disclosure Agreements
When you’re doing business of any kind with a company or individual who you have not worked with before, you want to make sure that anything you say will not be shared with anybody else unless it is in the course of doing business.
Even though you might not be doing top-secret sensitive work, you want to put an NDA in place, because your relationship will probably develop. And you know, just in case.
The short form is one way only; the mutual NDA binds both parties from disclosing any information.
All websites you develop should have customized terms and conditions, privacy and confidentiality policy, together with a solid, GDPR-compliant, cookie-policy.
Privacy policies are those nagging pieces of content that may be just lurking on every website.
13. Mobile Application Development Contract
If you need to include the development of a mobile application as part of your web design contract, many of the provisos and clauses in the legal texts above may be a little bit off, so these versions of some of these documents are specifically tuned towards mobile app development.
Just like a website needs a contract for web designers, the development of an app will require a contract too.
All of the things which apply to a web design project, also apply to developing a mobile application. Once again, protect your rights while meeting your obligations.
15. Invoicing clients
Not a web design contract per se, but this is also a legally binding document since it enters you into an agreement about payment.
Of course, if you want to get paid, issue an invoice based on the agreements you’ve signed.
Invoices are fairly simple documents that show what services have been undertaken (or are about to be), payment terms, payment details, and some contact details. Also, when invoicing, you’ll have to take notice of what you are bound to by the web design contract you have signed.
Now we get to a sample contract you hope you won’t need.
After the above list of open-source contracts for the web which are mostly there to proactively safeguard your rights and obligations, the following free contract templates deal with a different aspect. These are reactionary towards any grievances you’ve suffered.
They’re not something nice, but you have to be prepared for every eventuality, unfortunately.
16. Collection of dues
There are many many valid reasons why someone did not pay you on time.
But there are even more excuses which people tend to find to delay payments. But if the parties agree to pay, then these terms need to be honored. As a freelance web designer, or a small business struggling to make ends meet, payment on time is essential.
This letter is an amicable but firm reminder for the collection of payments.
17. Cease and Desist
Again, not a web design contract per se, but a different kind of “dis”-agreement that you might need.
Let’s say you discover that somebody has been using or breaching your intellectual property rights. This Cease and Desist letter is something which you send to parties that have breached your rights and can start proceedings with to protect various kinds of intellectual property.
You’ll probably need to amend these texts to suit your needs, and of course, these documents do not waive the need for professional legal advice. We’re just providing a bit of a starting point. You’ll find the free web design contract bundle below!
If you’re not happy with using a template, you might want to use this Online Contract Generator on Behance to generate a contract.
Besides contracts – what about Tools for Web Designers?
Here at BeeWits – we want to make your life as web designers easier – you focus on what you do best – creating AWESOME websites, whilst we help you out with the boring bits.
First of all – have you decided what your web design hourly rate is going to be? Many times your hourly rate is going to depend on your experience and expertise. But you can get some guidelines of what your hourly rate should look like for your region.
If you are new to freelancing, you might want to estimate an hourly rate by working out your expected expenses, billable hours, expected annual income and other variables BEFORE thinking about drafting a good contract. Also, do make sure that you’ve covered ALL of your expenses in your hourly rate.
Of course, you can’t inflate your expenses, or put costs for everything, and expect the clients to cough up. Charging of any rate has to be in line with your experience, your location, the location of your customer, the rates typically charged in the location of the client and the average rate charged by people of the same know-how as yourself.
We’ve come up with a handy tool to help you calculate your web design freelancer hourly rate – right here
By showing them exactly what work is involved in the design of a new website, you can easily justify your prices. Once again, BeeWits comes to the rescue. We’ve designed a tool to help you create an itemized web design quotation. It’s easy to use, fill in your details, those of the clients, hours of work expected and hourly rates on various items, and we’ll send you a nice PDF by email. Your quotation is going to be part of your web design contract anyway, so might as well get it out of the way.
Once you’ve gotten verbal or written acceptance of your quotation, you’ll need to use one of the bulletproof web design contract options we’ve listed above. As you can see we have provided you with various samples of a free contract which you can use. We’ve also thought about including a few other contracts and documents. You might you need in your budding web design freelancing career.
Download Web Design Proposal Templates
Finally, and this is also very important, particularly if you want to keep your pipeline healthy. You’ll need to figure out a way to generate proposal quickly. Besides an extensive feature of how to write a proposal which helps you close a sale every time, we’ve also got a nice web design proposal template ready for download (actually, we’ve got a number of different versions, so you can choose the one which you believe works best for you).
Don’t you love how easy we make it for you? 😉
Hey Web Designer – your contract is sorted! Want to manage your projects better?
So you’ve got your basic web design contract sorted out. Well done – you’re on the right track. If the brown stuff hits the fan, at least you have a legal alternative to turn to.
But why would you want to go through the hassle of a legal battle?
Why not just make sure that you have managed your web design projects right? BeeWits is a tool for web design freelancers, agencies and professionals. As cliche as it may sound, this is project management tool for web designers, built by web designers.
And no – it’s not for project managers. In fact, we prefer thinking about it as the project management tool for non-project managers.
One last thing…
As a design agency ourselves, we’re always looking for better tools that we can use to help us with our website projects. One of the many tools which we find very useful for us is Divi from Elegant Themes – it is our go-to tool at BeeWits, when we need to get something done quickly, with a tool we’ve grown to love and rely on.
In particular, we find that we get significant value from their Lifetime Access plan. This is because, with this plan, you get access to Divi updates and support FOREVER, while being able to use it on an unlimited number of websites.
Elegant Themes have been nice enough to partner with us and offer a 10% offer on this plan to BeeWits readers. Click below to get access to this today.
Below is one of the layouts (Divi everywhere), a layout for an agency being customized using the front-end builder.
Conclusion: Which web design contract template will you use?
Now that we’ve shared a number of options for your next web design contract, which one do you think you will use and prefer? Do you prefer the contract killer for freelance web designers or are do you think a binding agreement should make better use of the powers given by the laws of the state and use more legalistic terms?
Are there other web design contract templates which we should add to our bundle? Have you come across a web design contract that we should know about? We always appreciate it when our visitors contribute to make our articles better!
Let us know in the comments below.