It’s easy to get caught up in a very informal discussion about a web design project, especially if it’s a ‘quick one’ or with someone you know.
Why do we need a contract?
Isn’t it a simple exchange for services?
Well… no. Much of the process of web design is actually subjective. And where there is subjectivity, there is someone who feels like they didn’t get what they had verbally agreed to.
That’s why you get it in writing, and nail down all of the key factors
- How long will the project take?
- How much will the project cost?
- Are you paying for hours of someone’s time, or are you paying for certain things to for sure be completed?
- What features are all included in the price?
- What is the schedule / timeframe for specific phases of the project to get done?
- What are the caveats for the project?
Oh there can be more – but some of these are absolutely crucial.
For my proposal, I’d say one of the most important things is the brief ‘functionality audit’
– where I detail the main pieces of functionality on the site that will take significant time to develop and even the more basic ones, so that when an idea for a new feature gets introduced that hadn’t previously been discussed it becomes a separate work order – not lumped in with the initial proposal.
If I was agreeing to time and not functionality, I would just lump it in, and at the end of the project I would say – well, we went over 5 hours because of the XYZ- new feature, and to me that’s bad client relations. So the functionality audit gets both parties on the same page, and makes it clear that if it’s not part of the list it’s not part of what the client is buying.
Cost – Timeline – Caveats
If you’ve looked at the person who’s creating your websites previous work, then you should have a general idea of the kind of quality that they are capable of. Now you just need to know how much money you’ll need to spend, when it needs to be done by – and if there are any extenuating circumstances that would modify the agreement.
Communication and clarity of expectation is crucial on both sides
No matter what provider you use, it’s important to have a contract for web design projects. If you want a professional website, you want a professional creating it. Communicating the essentials for the project is important because it means you have sincere idea about what each sides responsibility is and a signed document to make it official.