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What to look out for when designing contracts

design contract signature illustration cartoon

Have you ever taken a job you were underqualified for?

A friend once asked me to design their website because I was “tech-y”.

Yes, me. The person who didn’t know if a text had to be left-aligned or centred, who only knew 3 shades of blue (dark blue, blue, and light blue), and who thought WordArt was classy.

Like any “friend” who was in between jobs, I tried. And 4 hours into it, I found myself Googling for web designers I can bring in for the project. 

Unfortunately, I only focused on completing the deliverables and didn’t bother composing a client-vendor contract.

I was underqualified and didn’t have the guts to put everything in black and white.

I eventually finished the project but it took a lot of my time, a lot of back and forth, admin paperwork, and tons of extra expenses.

Needless to say, I didn’t earn any money, only the lesson that a contract is essential for any service provider, and that it is a demonstration of professionalism.

Framing your design contract

In order to boost your web development agency’s appeal to your clients, it’s necessary to include design in your planning. This is where the design contract comes in.

A design contract is an agreement relating to the design, planning, or engineering of a project or a portion of it.

Many small and medium-sized agencies have design contracts to plan projects, protect their and their clients’ interests, clarify the process, and nail each deliverable. Here are some things to consider when creating a design contract.

Find the right design partner

Design contracts are complex, and your business could lose a lot of money if you don’t know how to negotiate your design contract properly. Note, therefore, that you need to choose the best partner to outsource your design.

Some freelance designers would charge outrageous prices but could only yield average results (like the designer I mentioned above). Make sure that you get your expectations well communicated during the negotiation.

Now that all is clear with your design partner, it’s time to negotiate the terms with your client. Never forget to mention the following:

Deadlines – Always ensure that you and your designer can deliver the project on time, making leeways for revisions. 

Coordinate always with your designer or account manager about the estimated completion date so you can plan accordingly.

Payment – Know the value of the services you are providing. Remember the art of pricing. When you find yourself having to justify your prices every time, it’s going to be a long project with a difficult client which you might want to reconsider.

Win-win agreement – Some negotiations don’t end well because either one party is on the losing end. During the entire project duration, both you and your client should gain equally from the contract. 

One way to assure this is to keep the conversation open between you and your client in order to make both parties’ expectations clear. A project that ends well gets more referrals.

win win situation deal vendor client cartoon

Key points to consider when designing a contract

Your contract needs to be crystal clear and effective in order to make the best deal. So, carefully consider the following details:

Confidentiality – Always indicate on your contract that confidentiality is of utmost importance. You have the option to disclose if the design is in-house or you’re outsourcing it. Either way, consider the client’s privacy as a priority.

Warranties – For the client to gain confidence in your service, you may opt to include a warranty for the service. It adds value to your reputation and this is also helpful as an exit strategy if there are future disputes.

Termination – You can fire a client if they breach the contract. Explain the details included during the termination, such as the discontinuation of tools and subscriptions related to your company. 

Also, clarify if future collaborations could be reconsidered.

Win-win is the way to success

As with any contract negotiation, you’ve got to have a clear idea of what you want to gain from the contract, and you have to know what the other party is willing to give.

If you have any questions in regards to web design contracts or outsourcing web design, you can book a client fit call with us for additional guidance. We’d be happy to help!