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Creating a Web Site Development Agreement

Monday, March 24, 2014/Categories: computer-programmers

Developing even a simple web site can quickly become a complex job, so clarifying expectations at the beginning of the project is always a good idea. That’s why an experienced web developer's first move is to get the client’s signature on a comprehensive website development contract before starting any project.

A website development agreement governs the relationship between you – the web site developer – and your client. Having this type of agreement in place makes good business sense whenever you’re hired to develop, design or implement a web site for one of your clients.

A web development contract protects you against the various liabilities associated with the development of web sites. The idea is to clearly establish the rights and responsibilities of each party over the term of the website development agreement, eliminating the possibility of any misunderstandings that could arise from a lack of communication.

Keep It Clear

These agreements typically include a detailed statement of work, which clearly defines the scope of the services you’ll perform on an ongoing basis. This might include key tasks, project milestones and deliverables, time and cost estimates, and project organization and personnel requirements. Additionally, web development agreements usually include price and payment terms that can help you avoid “scope creep,” which is a common problem during web development.

Other important components of a website developer’s contract may include limitation of remedies and limitation of liabilities clauses. A limitation of remedies clause might state that the client’s sole remedy is the correction of material defects or deficiencies brought to your attention within 90 days of completion, while a limitation of liabilities clause might cap your total liability at the amount you are paid for your services.

A sample website development contract might also include provisions for the termination of the agreement, ownership of intellectual property, warranties and disclaimers, confidential information, and employee solicitation and hiring.

Too Much “Legalese”?

If it sounds like your contract needs to contain a lot of legal jargon, don’t worry. While you could hire your own lawyer to draw up a web development agreement from scratch, it is likely to be much more affordable to use an existing form or template agreement for website developers.

A template website design and development contract makes the process easy by guiding you through development of your statement of work and other contract components, and helps ensure that you’ve addressed the key variables you may encounter during the project. Often, web development agreement templates provide examples and sample contract wording, eliminating some of the guesswork for you. It is recommended that you have a lawyer review your completed website development template or form contract for your peace of mind.

Depending on which other web development or design services you provide, you may also need contracts addressing ASP relationships, web content contributors, web site advertising, web site hosting, and web site terms of use. Other helpful contracts may include employment contracts and agreements for subcontractors and independent contractors. And, you may need a template privacy policy for use on your own or your client’s site.

Many website developers prefer to purchase a web design and development contract template package that includes all of these documents, allowing unlimited, as-needed use at an affordable package price.

Clear Communication Makes for Happy Clients

Having a legally sound website development agreement, signed by both parties, protects you from financial and material losses, while helping to ensure clear communication with your client. By setting clear expectations at the outset of a web development project, you’re much more likely to end up with a satisfied customer, a good reputation and repeat business.

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