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My dictionary defines a contract as:

A written or spoken agreement that is intended to be enforceable by law.

Why does a web design project require a contract? As I will outline below a contract between you (the client) and someone like me (the web designer) is mutually beneficial. Neither party should build a site without one. Why? Below are the main points as to the importance of a web design contract.


Although there are several ways to pay for a website, most web projects require a deposit and subsequent payment(s). A web design contract should outline what is payable—and when. It legally commits both parties to the project preventing the web designer from pulling out—and the client from stopping the project and refusing to pay for the work done thus far.


Contrary to popular belief, in some countries (including the UK) the copyright for design, etc actually stays with the designer by default. What the client pays for is the right to use the commissioned design work in a particular context (i.e. your website). A good web design project will state in no uncertain terms what belongs to which party. If you don’t wish to be held hostage by your web designer you should ask him or her to sign over copyright to you in the contract. I do just that by default:

Once full payment has been received you have full access and ownership to all the site’s resources in its signed off state.

Amends, revision and alterations

To protect the web designer from doing endless rounds of amends a contract will cap the number of design/development iterations and time spent on amends. This is beneficial for the client as well as you know from the outset how much time you have to work with.

Supplying content/errors in content

A contract would also make the client agree to exercise due diligence when writing text and producing images for the site. They must be able to substantiate all claims and representations and would be responsible for all trademark, copyright, etc.

If you are being trusted to manage some of the content for the site via a CMS then the web designer will use the contract to make you responsible for any content you add.

Maintenance, support and backups

Once the site is live who is responsible for maintaining the site, backing it up and offering support? Don’t assume that you can rely on your web designer free-of-charge indefinitely. Agree a post-launch plan with your web designer and pay for it accordingly.

As you can see a web design contract has many uses and it serves as a protection for both parties.

If you’d like me to build your website call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.

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