Design Contracts – Avoiding the Eternal Website Development Problem

If you have a business, you pretty much need to have a website these days. That being said, most business owners hire people to design sites for them with little understanding for what they are doing. This can lead to problems when the designer takes their sweet time in completing the sites. A design contract is the way to avoid this problem.

Intuit is in the website building game these days as you might have noticed from all the commercials online. One selling point in the commercial is a gentleman who notes he paid someone to build his site…four months ago. While humorous, it is actually a serious problem for businesses. There are many excellent web designers, but one often has to keep their feet to the fire to make sure the website is built within a reasonable time period.

You should never enter into an agreement with a site designer without a contract. Why? Well, there are a host of reasons, but let’s start with one of the most important. Copyright is an intellectual property right that doesn’t always translate to the web seamlessly. The reason is the “author” of the copyrightable piece is the creator. Since most businesses hire an independent designer, this can result in the odd situation where you pay for the site but don’t actually own the copyright. This can be handled in a contract by including a copyright transfer clause.

Okay, what about the timing issue? How do you keep you website project from becoming an eternal one? The answer is to put milestones in the contract. Milestones are simply points in time that designate what happens at certain times. Most projects start with a down payment being made. The designer then must have certain things done and approved in writing by the client by a certain date. When that happens, the designer receives more of the payment and so on. If the designer doesn’t meet that milestone, financial penalties are incurred.

As you can imagine, this keeps things moving along briskly and you get a website up and running within your expected time span. That’s the key to getting on with your web business instead of fighting with the designer.