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The Web Design Contract – Killersites Web Design Magazine

The Web Design Contract


In this session of the Business of Web Design, I go over what you need to have in a typical web design contract.

There are important elements that you must include to avoid problems down the road, things like:

  • Payment terms.
  • Delivery dates.
  • Project specifics: how many pages, functionality etc…

… and a whole lot more.

Thought the contract is there to protect you from any problems, whether intentional or not, you should never get into any business arrangement with people you don’t trust.

To learn more, you have to listen to the session.

The Web Design Contract


Stefan Mischook


17 responses to “The Web Design Contract”

  1. Some good basic info here. It is important to scrutinize clients before doing any business with them. Even if you are totally right and have a contract to back you up, it costs $5,000 to get a lawyer on retainer and file suit. Unfortunately there are a lot of disreputable people out there that know it isn’t worth it for you to sue over the balance of fees.

  2. Hi Andy,

    I agree. But judgment comes with time and experience. In the meantime, by using a smart payment schedule (I talk about that in another session) you can avoid a lot of problems.


  3. ooh, this looks really good and just what I’m looking for. Any chance you have a transcript or a CC option for those like me with hearing problems? Would love to access the info here, thanks!

  4. Hi Anna,

    I plan on releasing a bunch of PDF’s outlining the content of the podcast.

    Please get back to me in a few weeks if you see that I have not put out the content.



  5. Sir,
    I tried to watch ur video on the topic,WRITING A WEB DESIGN CONTRACT but i have difficulty in doing so,the problem is from my connection anyway as i use dial up connection,can you help me send the pdf document on this topic,i will appreciate that.my email is waleoyepeju@yahoo.com.

  6. Hi,
    I would love to see a written draft of a contract. How much are you guys taking from the client per hour, anyway?

  7. Stephan

    Good information here…I have been using contracts for a few years now and have found them to actually help my bottom line. I have devised ways to implement certain up selling techniques into my proposals and contracts for services such as hosting, webmaster packages etc. that has helped me to make more money than I would have without them.

    It also gives you, the web designer a professional appearance and tells the customer that you are serious about what you do, rather than talking in ambiguities and un-signed promises which will absolutely get you into trouble regardless who you’re working for.

    Silly civilians (non – geek types) have no clue what it means to change a page or a site layout after the fact. It requires more than just a click here and a wave of a magic wand there… Revisions is something that needs to be spelled out clearly. And it cannot be done without a signed contract. This I have learned through the school of hard knocks my friends.

    Stefan does a good job of explaining why contracts are a necessary evil, and I can vouch for not only their usefulness, but their value as a sales tool.

    During the proposal step, you let your customer know that this is where details will be ironed out. Everything from design, graphics, images, layout, colors, number of pages, forms, shopping cart, and everything else you might need or encounter in the development and design of the website.

    Many designers are afraid that once they have developed a good relationship with their customer, and have gotten them to the point of saying “Yes” to your initial proposal. That it would be a real buzz kill to bring up the idea of a contract. It seems that if you mention that “Oh by the way I will require you to sign a contract” you will destroy the moment and your customer will think you don’t trust them.

    Not true. Yes there are right and wrong ways of presenting a contract, and the best way to do so is to “Lead” your customer up to the point of laying his/her signature on the bottom line.

    During the proposal process, the way I do it, you simply mention a few times that this proposal worksheet is only a template for out final agreement which we will both sign before any work is actually done. 100% of the time your client will agree with that concept, and you have just taken the awkward moment out of the contract issue.

    Note: I prefer to use the term: “Agreement” instead of contract. It has a more positive tone, and doesn’t sound so ominous.

    When it comes time to have your client review the final contract just tell them in your friendly tone that this is the final agreement that was drafted completely from the initial agreed upon proposal, I will hand them a copy that I have already signed myself. That will emphasize the empty blank where they’re signature should be. Many times they will just sign it without any prompt at all from you. If they don’t sign it right away but seem to agree with everything, simply tell them “As soon as you give me your signature of approval, work can begin on your new website.” Works every time.

    You will rarely encounter a question or any hesitation because you have primed the pump during the proposal process. They’re already expecting a “Final” agreement which will require their signature. Because you told them you would provide it. If you do encounter a negative response to signing any kind of contract, this it the time to re-evaluate whether or not you want to invest your time and sweat into a project for this customer. Better to find out now than after you’ve completed half the website.

    Most times all your customer will require is a small re-assurance that this is for both parties to make sure we don’t forget any of the details of our agreement.

    Since you are usually dealing with business people anyway, rest-assured that they are quite accustomed to signing agreements for every kind of business transaction. Many of them require their own clients to sign contracts, so they understand the necessity of it entirely.

    Don’t forget to use this opportunity to “Upsell” your services as well. All the extras can be placed and should be placed into the final agreement. You can however, sign a seperate agreement for hosting.

    Thanks again Stephan for the great info.

  8. Hi,

    Sorry for the long delay. We are putting these things together now for our soon to be live subscription based service that will give you access to all our content.


  9. People are looking for a contract template to look at as reference. I myself have never seen the same contract or proposal drafted and agreed upon for different clients, as client needs and developer proposals differ depending on the situation. The only template should be these guidelines, not something you fill in the blanks or copy/paste from. Stephen makes some great points in his retort post, but what it adds up to is making your contract agreements as unique as your web productions.

  10. Zandog is correct .. contracts will vary considerable depending on the client and the job.

    The template contract will be just a simple document that outlines:

    – the projects specifics .. line items are good.
    – timelines – delivery dates.
    – terms between the client and web designer.
    – payment terms.
    – payment amounts.
    – what the CLIENT has to delivery … typically that means the content for the site.

    There is other stuff too. But I can see how people who have never seen a contract would like to see a sample to get an idea.