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What Should A Contract For Offering Web Design Services Include?


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#1 oricemures

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 12:52 PM

Recently i started to offer web design services and I am thinking that
a contract is need so as to protect my own interests as well as the clients.

Can you give me some suggestions about what it should contain.

I was thinking to include:
- deadline
- the exact work (number of pages, types etc)
- the amount of money
- to include that I still reserve the right to reuse some of the code from their project into ours
- specify that failing to meet the deadline because they failed to provide the information I needed on time will not be penalized
- the client must pay 30 % up front and another amount at key points on big projects {this clause will be added only after I have a big enough portfolio to be justified to make such a demand. My portofolio site is in work as well}

Any extra ideas and or comments on the existing ideas?

Also can you tell me or point out a good resource on: (books, links, etc)
#1. How much to charge for the work
#2. What questions to ask the client so I can get a good idea of what he/he needs
#3. How to interact with the client during the process
#4. Collections of templates, scripts, typography examples, color schemes, vectorial images so I can build sites more easily

#2 Guest_joedolson_*

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 01:07 PM

to include that I still reserve the right to reuse some of the code from their project into ours


Technically, you actually need to explicitly give them the rights - by default, you retain all rights to your work. If you wish to transfer rights to the client, you need to create an explicit statement defining what work you are transferring the rights on.

#3 oricemures

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 02:20 PM

Thats is true but I feel that if I don't specify that I can reuse some of the code,
even if I retain all the rights to it by default, it will come across as a sneaky to people not familiar with the laws concerning copyright and could hurt my reputation and especially referrals and at the moment most of my work is through referrals so i can't risk.

Any idea on how to specify that I retain rights and may use some of the code?

#4 SEOigloo

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 03:18 PM

Hi Oricemures,
I'm going to second Joe on this. Our code is ours. We use it whenever we need to for whatever we're building. For example, if we were doing a slideshow, we've got the basic code for this somewhere. We use it as needed for any client that wants a slideshow. While the client owns the images in their slideshow, they don't own the code. Make sense?

Now, where I can see this being different is if you were creating some kind of proprietary code that had never been created before. If you invented some totally unprecedented function for a client that had never existed elsewhere and they wanted to copyright this function, a contract would need to include these types of rights and permissions.

#2. What questions to ask the client so I can get a good idea of what he/he needs


For me, this falls into 2 categories of questions.

1) Asking oodles of questions at the outset to understand the client's business. I don't know what the deal is with guys who create copper plumbing pipes. I need them to tell me about that. I don't know who they sell to (B2B, individuals, etc). They need to tell me that. I don't know their credentials and history. They need to explain that to me. I need to take notes on all of these kinds of things so that I know what I'm doing working with them.

2) Asking what they want their website to do for them. What are their goals and expectations? Why have they decided to have a website and what does it need to accomplish for them? Are they hoping to achieve local prominence, a national or international presence in organic SERPS? When a visitor hits the website, what does the company want that visitor to do? Buy something, pick up a phone, fill out a form, watch a video, come into a physical store?

When a client is new to the web, you will find you often have to prompt them to start thinking this way about their business and their website. We get a lot of vague replies at first from new clients and have to 'train' them to start thinking clearly about what they want their website to achieve for them. With help, the client will begin to articulate what their business is about, who they want to serve and how they want their website to become a client-serving tool.

Hope this helps!
Miriam

Edited by SEOigloo, 12 June 2008 - 03:19 PM.


#5 AbleReach

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 06:18 PM

3. What are their customers likely to be looking for, and why? You can segment this into existing customers and those they wish they were attracting. Maybe they already do a lot of good business selling pipe fittings, but would also like to sell hot water heaters and septic care products. The company probably already knows what those who buy pipe fittings think they need, and why. What are the driving concerns of those in the market for hot water heaters and septic care products?

#6 sanity

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 06:42 PM

I don't think I have had a chance to welcome you yet oricemures, so welcome to Cre8!

Some points that come to mind:

Payments
------------
Final and all outstanding payments are due before the website goes live. This is a big one - people are far more willing to pay promptly when they want their website online. If you put it online first they can often drag their heels. :)

Fixed Price Quote or Estimate?
------------------------------------
You need to determine whether you are providing a fixed price quote or an estimate and whatever you decide will determine how you approach things.

With a fixed price quote it is vital that you spell out what the quote includes (the exact work as you mentioned) but also what it does not include. Things such as, how many re-designs will you provide, is photography, illustration, copy writing etc included. How many changes will you make at production stage and the like.

With an estimate you need to spell out that the estimate is based on the information you were provided and may change if additional information is forthcoming. A paragraph such as this can help:

These figures are an estimate, not a quote. They are based on information provided, and may be inappropriate if additional information is forthcoming, or job specifications change. It is valid for 30 days.


Copyright
-----------
Who owns the copyright of the website? A good resource for this is http://www.ivanhoffman.com/web.html.

Don't expect that your contract will be perfect from day one, we often refine ours as situations come up that we have not dealt with previously. It is also a good idea to get a lawyer to look over your contract.

Also can you tell me or point out a good resource on: (books, links, etc)


I'm not sure if we can discuss pricing here but here are a couple of other resources that might help:

Criteria Template For Initial Process Of A New Site Design?, Anyone got one they don't mind sharing.

Rates Calculator

You might also want to start a separate thread here to discuss these issues.

Hope this helps,
Sophie

#7 oricemures

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Posted 12 June 2008 - 11:28 PM

Tnx sanity, it is good to be here.

Yes it helped very much. Thanks to you I now have a more clear idea what the contract should say. I will get started today on it.

I really need it asap because as I said I started work on some projects without contract and I got into he kind of trouble a contract would have helped avoiding like to many redesigns, creating the content for free etc.

Also, I will take your advice and ask the other questions in a dedicated thread. I am thinking of calling it
The Web Design Business Kit - where every one could share tips on everything- starting from the business part (contracting, acquiring clients, payments , etc) to the actual designing (how to be more efficient, good sources of code, how to build a good portfolio site, where to get inspiration, color schemes , typography etc).

How do you like this idea? I would you be willing to add to such a thread?

#8 AbleReach

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 12:32 AM

The Web Design Business Kit, you say? ;-)

Yup. Good idea. :(

#9 sanity

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Posted 13 June 2008 - 02:43 AM

It sounds like you are on the right path oricemures. If it's any consolation most of us have been where you are. It's the clients/jobs that don't go easily that often help us refine our contracts and the way we do business. I figure if you can learn from these jobs you can at least take something out of them.

How do you like this idea? I would you be willing to add to such a thread?

I think it sounds good and will definitely contribute.

#10 netessentials

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 06:44 AM

Also, page size may come into play. I've had people want to dump 3 pages of content into one page and then they say "Well all I need is one page". I have in my contract that the website page will be the size of a printed page, and then I tell them that if needed, there is some flexibility in that.

Also, I had an attorney not want to give final payment because he couldn't see himself right away in Yahoo search engine, so I added "Final payment will not be withheld because of varying search engine results".

He eventually paid when I threated to take him to collections using an attorney from across the street (his neighbor).

#11 EGOL

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 07:30 AM

Something that should be discussed before you write a contract is... "How will your design work be acknowledged on the website?"

Some designers want a link in the footer of every page. Some feel that a "Website by ABC Designers" is adequate. Some site owners are agreeable to the above. Others do not want links in the footer and don't even link to their parent company website. Some want the credits listed on the "about us page" or another location.

You should discuss this in advance of the contract and before quoting a price. If the site owner wants credits on the "about us" page but you wanted a site wide link in the footer then perhaps your price should be a little higher because you don't get the visibility.

#12 iamlost

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 09:58 AM

A Change Order clause.



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