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Websites vary in size and as such so do the ways you pay for it. The information herein relates to how I get my clients to pay for their sites but you’ll find most freelancers and agencies operate in a similar manner.

Although I am flexible in such matters, payment terms should be appropriate to the size of the site and they are there as a security measure for the web designer and to show commitment on the client’s side. The main ways to pay for a site are:

Full payment up front

For small jobs you may have to pay the full amount before any work is done. This is because if the payment is late for whatever reason and time needs to be spent chasing it up, sometimes more time can be spent on administration (issuing the invoice and then repeatedly chasing payment) than the job itself. Also, if you have a poor payment history this may be your only option regardless of the size of the job.

Payment to launch

For slightly larger jobs you may be required to pay in full to launch the website. Again this is to protect the web designer from spending too much time pursuing payment. The web design contract you signed to commence the project will mention if these terms are applicable. This is mutually fair though as you pay nothing up front and the web designer doesn’t have to wait to be paid.

Deposit and installments

For most sites payment is spread out over installments. A deposit is required to start the project; this shows the client is committed to it and prevents them pulling out part way through without paying anything. Further installments are then paid at milestones in the project. Typically, the larger the site the more installments are made. Again, exact milestones and payments will be detailed in your contract. A typical job for me would be a 25% deposit to start the job, a further 25% once the design work is complete and the remaining 50% would be payable on project completion.

Per-hour payments

For ongoing agency work it is common to do lots of jobs of different sizes, on different sites. The agency pay by the hour rather than for each individual jobs. In such cases I’d usually invoice the agency monthly for the number of hours spent and they’d be subject to the usual payment terms.

Unless if it’s a small maintenance job or you’re an agency I work for regularly you should have a web design contract stating your payment terms.

To start a web project call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.

Tim Bennett is a Leeds-based web designer from Yorkshire. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.