Bulletproof Web Design Contracts [Work Smarter]

Bulletproof Web Design Contracts [Work Smarter]:

Reading this was deja vu. There were some great ideas as well as two areas that I hadn't thought about. Particularly as I begin to do more American work I need to make sure I have contractual protection against problems and liability.

"Contract Essentials Checklist

Here's a quick recap to use as a checklist against your existing contract:

1. Scope of Work and Scope Creep
Manage scope creep by specifying exactly what is and is not included so you can charge for the additional work, if appropriate.

I'm amazed that I still have to deal with this problem. I have experience time after time after time. Yet still it happens.

2. Client Amends and Revisions
Be sure to specify the number of design comps you'll present and to limit the number of revisions you'll allow, or be faced with changes ad infinitum.

Design is an iterative process. I haven't had to go beyond three or four. It should be built in.

3. Dealing With Client Delays
Waiting for a client to provide content can be one of the most frustrating parts of any project. Be sure your contract addresses the issue of what will happen if the client delays, for any reason.

My #1 problem. I've tried a lot of different things but never sent an invoice for an unfinished project. I need to try and set a timeline and then stick to it and see what happens.

4. Who Owns the Website You've Built?
Whether or not to transfer copyright to the client is probably the most controversial subject among Web professionals. Whatever you decide, be sure you understand how the copyright laws work in the country in which you're doing business.

Lost a client over this one. Some people have little appreciation for the work that goes into building a system and a design. That it should be used in many ways. My knowledge is my stock in trade. If I build a design and then produce a similar one in an unrelated field? So be it.

5. Legal Boilerplate Clauses
Boilerplate clauses such as Limitation of Liability and Choice of Law give you the opportunity to limit the amount of risk and liability you'll incur in the event that you're accused of breach of contract. Failure to include these can result in lawsuits over consequential damages and traveling to other States, Provinces or countries to defend yourself in court.

Good one. I need to review my contract and make sure I am covered.

6. Milestones and Project Completion
Having clearly defined and agreed upon milestones, with 'sign offs' on each phase, will prevent the client from requesting changes to a previously approved phase -- or at least from expecting that you should do it for free.

I went for the book on this one, clearly an area I have struggled with. As I slowly build skill and experience - I see this more clearly and could incorporate it into a contract easily.

7. Client and/or Third Party Page Modifications
Be sure your contract states that you are not responsible to repair any damage done to the site by the client or any other party if they attempt to modify it (at least, not for free).

Got this and never had to use it. The language I have is pretty draconian.

8. Maintenance and Technical Support
Unless you enjoyed repeated calls from clients who've lost their email passwords (again), make sure that the issue of Maintenance and Technical Support is clearly addressed in your contract.

I have done this a few times but it has been minor and people are pretty clear about what might be support and what is billable maintenance.

9. Payment Terms
You don't want to be ambiguous about when and how often you'll get paid. A percentage up front and the remainder on or near completion date are standard practices."

Best advice I ever got. It sure beats waiting on a deadbeat client. I like to ask for a big junk up front - a major percentage on substantial completion and a topup on the agreed completion. This will need to change if I move to a timeline based contract.

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