Over the last few year, working as a website or app designer has become very profitable. This is because the internet deeply affected each aspect our lives, and the way we communicate. Small and large businesses rely on freelance designers who help them to create a website which is responsive, and that meets their potential customers' needs. Don't miss the opportunity to start a brilliant career, and protect your interests with a regular design contract.
A freelance professional must be able to create a design which immediately catches users' attention. If your design fails to be attractive, users will get out of the website in a few seconds, which results in a potential loss for the company who runs it. Don't waste your time thinking of what can go wrong: trust your design contract and do your best to satisfy your client's needs.
When you and your client sign up a design contract, make sure you both agree on what you will do. Sometimes freelancers do not get paid because clients say that they didn't respect the agreements, but if you put everything on paper, there won't be problems like this. Also, remember to set clear deadlines and terms of payment (including how much you will be paid, and how). Finally, add a clause about intellectual property, specifying that its ownership will be transferred over to the client once your work is done and paid.
Credits: Image courtesy of template.net
A good contract is one that none of the parties involved can afford to misuse or misinterpret. The contract should be a factual and legally-binding document. It should be legally enforceable. The truth is no designer, especially one working as a freelancer, can afford not to learn how to design such a contract. It comes with the territory. The good news is you can excel in this area and make it impossible for clients to defraud you of your hard-earned cash.
So, how should you design a good contract?
First, examine whether there is a real need for a contract. Check whether you really need one. While doing that, remember that a contract protects your interests. It gives you ample protection, which the law enforces, against clients whose only interest is to get “free” services from you. No two contracts are the same. The reason for this is each client you get has specific and unique interests or needs. The contract should, therefore, reflect this.
It’s also alright to decide not to involve a lawyer while crafting this contract. The only time a lawyer’s services would be needed is when dealing with a large corporate. You may also flout everything known about human decency by asking your neighbor to sign several papers for a simple design job. However, you’re free to do whatever it takes if you feel that your interests might be at a huge risk.
Secondly, evaluate the number of design contract templates you need. Drafting contracts has never been an attractive task for any freelance designer. Only lawyers can consider such work attractive. After all, they studied in college to design enforceable contracts for a living. It’s unwise to create and use a single template for all projects you get. Each contract involves different considerations.
For example, some projects will involve licensing while others won’t.
Using one contract for all projects exposes you to the likelihood of under-addressing the client’s concerns. A one-size-fits-all approach is detrimental to the future of your career as a freelance designer. Each contract you negotiate and sign with clients should address all likely scenarios. It should be as detailed as possible. It should leave the client in no doubt that your mind and focus is on the current project only and nothing else.
Third, it’s good to know what a good contract looks like.
Spend time focusing on the actual format of the contract. The content of all the clauses you include on the contract are equally important too. However, the format is not worth ignoring or not giving the required attention. A good contract should be well formulated and formatted. Be conversant with the information that ought to appear on the contract’s header. Do whatever it takes to present yourself as a professional freelance designer.
Credits: Image courtesy of Mwashing on Flickr
A well-formatted contract reeks of professionalism, which is good for your business and career.
Ensure that the contract is legible. Check that all spellings are correct. Use a font that’s of the right size, simple, and dignified. Fine print is a commonly used phrase where contracts are concerned. However, “fine prints” in terms of the choice of fonts you make is not a good practice. Tiny letters, writings, and wordings are a red flag on most contracts because they make clients suspicious that you’re probably trying to hide something from them.
Fourth, it’s good to spend some time examining and learning about contract checklist. Every contract you sign with your clients should include certain essential information. The information you include will ensure that the two parties – designer and client – know what’s expected of them. Such information helps get rid of the misunderstandings that might arise regarding various issues. It ensures that everything flows smoothly as expected.
Some of the information that should appear on the contract includes:
· basics of the project
· client expectations
· timing (and deadlines)
· terms of payment
· intellectual property
Most importantly, design a contract that helps to either resolve or avoid conflicts. Freelancing work is just like any other type of work. It comes with all imaginable and unimaginable risks. Although contracts are legally enforceable documents, designers and their clients often try not to get to the point where they rush for lawyers or to the courts to resolve some problems. Each contract is useful for maintaining positive and good relationships with clients.
You can keep your relationship with clients’ positive by being a reasonable and polite designer.
A good contract will always complement your other strategies for ensuring that clients remain happy, loyal, supportive, and positive in all their interactions with you. A good contract should under-promise but over-deliver. Your results should always exceed all the promises you made to the client. Surpass everything you said you would do on the contract. Do this and see the clients loving you and bringing more design work to you.
Remember to treat clients well, especially if they aren’t scammers or nitwits.
The contract should clearly show your love for people, especially clients. It should clearly indicate the ways you intend to bring joy to the clients’ businesses. Approach each project with the understanding that clients are good individuals whose desire is to gain and maintain a fair business relationship with you. The contract, therefore, should only enhance this mindset for the benefit of the two parties.
As previously stated, a contract should contain some basic features and info.
It’s normal for clients to ask for revisions. Expect and be ready to revise a few of the designs you make. However, let the clients know how many revisions you’re willing to make at no extra charge before you begin charging. Do not be afraid to state this clearly, as it will determine whether you continue wasting time and money or not. Most clients love it when a designer lets them know such issues in advance. Clarifying such matters helps clients to take you seriously.
Revisions are also like changes. But, you should study the client’s instructions carefully. In some cases, what the client might be asking for are changes that make the design completely different from what was originally intended. Changes make the design completely different. Revisions only provide clients with a new outlook while maintaining the original concept. The contract should indicate whether you accept requests for changes or revisions.
You should charge clients for changes and not revisions, especially if they ask for 1-2 revisions.
The contract should also be clear on issues such as the turnaround times. Let the clients know when they should expect the design from you. Let them know when you intend to submit the revised work too. This is good practice and quite useful in reassuring clients that you’re not ignoring them. More importantly, telling clients the turnaround times is also an excellent way for designers to:
· stay on track
· provide clients with deliverables and project proofs right on schedule
A good design contract highlights how the approval process should and will work. It’s normal for designers to send hardcopies before asking the client to append their signatures if they consider the work satisfactory and to their expectations. Some designers even ask clients to send the approval by regular mail or email. In short, the contract should be clear on such matters too to avoid wasting time.
Promotions should never be left out of the contract. Designers need to promote their work to attract more clients. Unfortunately, to designers, some clients buy all the rights to work done by freelance designers. In such situations, promoting the work would be akin to breaching the contract. Therefore, let the contract be clear on such matters to avoid falling foul of the law and thus being susceptible to a lawsuit.
Non-disclosure clauses are worth including on the design contract too. It’s normal for clients to come across sensitive and private information regarding their clients. Also, clients may come across some highly sensitive information on the designers. The contract should indicate what each party should do in such a scenario. Private information should be kept so and not made public.
A good, well-written contract should highlight the designer-client relationship better.
It’s normal for designers to state that they are not employed by clients. This clarification is vital for taxation purposes too. Feel free to let the client know that you’re an independent contractor or freelancer. For this relationship to stand legal tests, you must use your products or supplies only and not rely on the clients. Ensure the contract makes the following distinctions clearly enough.
a) you’re a freelancer
b) you will operate on your schedule
c) you will do the work at your own facility
Warranties are worth including in the design contract. Include them only if you intend to observe or enforce them. Otherwise, you will be better off letting all clients know that you don’t offer warranties or guarantees. Let clients know how much time they have after completion of the project to ask for corrections. Let them know that the warranties are only applicable or valid for a specific duration.
A good, well-written, and legally enforceable design contract is never silent on an issue as important as contract termination. It’s normal for clients to feel the need to move on to a different designer. Likewise, some designers often feel the need to take and work with different clients. Ensure the contract talks about this issue in great detail. The contract must talk about the actual procedure to follow – including the how and when – in asking for a termination.
Forces and circumstances beyond your control might prevent you from completing the client’s project on time as earlier indicated. Including a “force majeure” clause in the contract is acceptable and understandable in such situations. Such a clause protects you in case the client feels cheeky enough or sufficiently aggrieved to want to pursue the matter in court. Without this clause, you will be at the mercy of the client in case you can no longer complete the work.
Do whatever it takes to avoid making the client angry.
Credits: Image courtesy of Bonsai Contracts
Freelance designers often create contracts that are full of loopholes. Most freelance designers are not legal experts. Their expertise is limited to designs alone. Because of this, it’s normal for designers to include too many loopholes and errors on their design contracts. For example, some designers sign contracts with underage clients. Often, this leaves them in a dilemma, especially when the courts feel that the error arose out of your own negligence.
It’s possible for designers, or their clients, to breach contracts legally.
First, being under the legal age, the law has set for signing contracts with another party offers you (or the client) a way out. The people signing design or freelance contracts should be over 18 years old. Therefore, ask your clients to provide proof of age before signing (or not signing) any contract with them. Age isn’t the only legal way of breaking or failing to meet the requirements of the contract, however.
Incapacitation is a valid reason for breaching the contract legally. Drunkenness is incapacitation. Signing any contract with a person who is inebriated will expose you to huge losses. A person diagnosed with illnesses such as Alzheimer’s is also incapacitated. The reason for this is both parties must agree to the terms of the contract. For that to happen, they must be in the right frame of mind.
The designer and client are exempted from satisfying the terms of a contract they sign under duress. Putting a gun to the clients’ head and expecting them to not only sign but also meet their side of the bargain will not work. Therefore, work your socks off to convince clients that any contract signed with you will also greatly benefit them. Let them see the benefits and sign the contract because they want to rather than because you forced them to.
Therefore, do what’s posted above and you will be happy with your design contract.