By Jemma Fong
Understand what can be found within a contract:
Scope of Work and Scope Creep (Small changes in a project plan that can alter other changes which could also lead to still more changes)
Make sure the developer has explained exactly what is and is not included in the whole project so you understand what extra charges would be applied for the additional work, if appropriate. Make sure this is included in the Letter of Agreement and signed and dated by both parties.
Amendments and Revisions
Ask the design company to specify the number of design iterations you’ll be presented with. Limit the number of revisions try to gather all your changes in one go.
Additional considerations, ex. project extension due to your timetable
Be sure your contract addresses the issue of what will happen if you delay the project, for any reason, what financial commitments are you responsible for.
Who Owns the Website You’ve Built?
Make sure to understand how the copyright laws work in the country in which you’re doing business and understand who owns what, especially if you plan to outsource your work to another country, like India, China etc.
Legal Boilerplate Clauses
Boilerplate clauses such as Limitation of Liability and Choice of Law will give the design company the opportunity to limit the amount of risk and liability that will incur in the event that they’re accused of a breach of contract. Know your rights as a client and it’s impact on your project.
Milestones and Project Completion
You will have clearly defined and agreed upon milestones, with “sign offs” on each phase, this will clearly spell out what is expected in each phase.
Client and/or Third Party Page Modifications
Be known that your contract will typically state that design companies are not responsible to repair any damage done to the site by yourself or any other party if you attempt to modify it (you may be charged a maintenance fee for fixing any issues that arise).
Maintenance and Technical Support
Make sure that your contractor clearly spells out their Maintenance and Technical Support and you are aware of what all is involved, including things like maintaining your renewals of your domain name, hosting and any other 3rd party contracts.
Find out what the expectations are with respect to paying the web design company. Typically a deposit of (50%) is required with sub payments thereafter. Make sure it is clearly written down and agreed upon.
If in doubt, last but not least, make sure to review your contract with a lawyer or legal representative. Ensure you are understanding what you are signing.