A bulletproof Web design contract ensures both sides -- Web site owner and Web designer -- get a fair deal. It ensures a smooth project, and avoids future disputes due to misunderstandings.
Here are 6 essential clauses for any Web design contract you sign.
1. Milestones and Deadlines
It's better to have a few milestones with concrete dates than one final delivery deadline. Having multiple deadlines provides for periodic checks to keep the project on track and moving along.
2. Specific Deliverables
Be very specific about deliverables. Examples of good specific deliverables are "Site works in top 5 browsers -- IE6, IE7, Firefox 1.5, Firefox 2, Safari" and "All code, graphics, mockups and other work product emailed in one zipfile before final payment will be issued." Spell out exactly what you expect to be delivered before the designer will be paid.
3. Number of Concepts
Also called "mockups" or "comps." The design process will start with the designer showing you concepts of what your homepage might look like. You'll work with the designer to take what you like from each concept until you agree on one look. In order to have enough choices in layouts, colors, and other variables, you'll want to have enough concepts to work with. Three concepts is a good number of choices that won't break the budget.
4. Number of Revisions
These are the rounds of notes and thoughts you give the designer to narrow down the 3 concepts to 1. Three rounds of revisions is a good number that will give you enough time to get a design you love without breaking the budget.
Paying 50 percent before work starts is a commonly accepted practice. Never pay the full amount up front.
6. Intellectual Property
You need to know who owns the rights to the design, including mockups, code and other work product.