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With the growing popularity of the mobile phones, especially the smartphone, a large amount of traffic has moved to mobile. According to Global Web Index, about 80% of internet users own a mobile phone and hence the need to create products for them to access via the gadgets. Most companies can no longer afford to target traditional media and older technologies to help them get clients. Depending on the core business of the company and its size among other factors, companies may choose to hire an in-house mobile designer while others opt for contracting out the job as needed. Regardless of this, the first rule that every designer including mobile designers should follow is to always use contracts. The mobile design contracts come in various forms. Among them is the service agreement and work for hire contracts.

A good example of a mobile design contract should state exactly what you as the mobile designer will undertake, the start date for the project and a clear schedule of payment stating how and when you’ll be paid. It shouldn’t just focus on the designer’s responsibilities. The contract should also include what the company will provide and the tasks it will perform. It may also specify how you will be paid for work done beyond the scope of what is included in the contract.

Other details that need to be included in the example design contract include intellectual property terms such as whether the copyright belongs to you – the designer – or the client for whom you are doing the work. It should include terms and conditions for the termination of the contract, such as who can terminate it and on what grounds. A contract should also state the actions that a party can take in the event that the other party delays in delivering its part of the contract.

With mobile design jobs, a support period may also be defined in the example mobile design contract. The support period determines the amount of time during which the designer provides support and handles any arising errors or problems as the new users start interacting with the App or Mobile site. It will also specify whether this support service is to be provided at a cost or for free.

Details on the handling of the clients’ confidential information by the designer may also be included and the remedies any aggrieved party can seek in case one party fails to meet its obligations as stipulated.

mockup of a mobile design contract
‍Image Credits: pinterest.com

Importance of Contracts Wjem Designing

What do you do when your web design projects or business grows bigger? Easy. All you need to do is to charge more, serve your clients better, and sign more lucrative and improved contracts. In fact, the bigger your business grows, the more contracts you should be signing. You should not do work for any client without a contract. You should insist on signed contracts and agreements before sitting down to start any work. 

For many mobile designers, nothing is more important to the growth of the businesses they run than contracts. These documents determine the direction their businesses will take. A good contract will help you in many ways. It will help you in setting the right rates. It will help you with copyright issues too. It will help you define the kind of work you are about to do for your client too. Contracts help clarify many issues without which conflicts and disagreements would be the norm. 

A contract should be simple and easy to understand. 

Simplify Your Mobile Design Contracts

Do not make the contract appear overcomplicated. Avoid contracts that only succeed at causing more frustrations. Contracts should be able to resolve any issue that arises during the lifetime of a project. It is good to know how to create a good mobile design contract. You do not need some special set of skills to excel at writing these contracts. All you need is a willingness to learn what the contract has to contain. 

All mobile designers and developers should know the types of contracts to write. 

The following are the most important contracts for this group of professionals:

  1. Technology assignment agreement
  2. Work for hire
  3. License agreement
  4. Privacy policy
  5. Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), which have key elements worth honoring
Example of contract
‍Image Credits: samplecontracts.org

The industry the mobile designers work in is highly competitive. It involves numerous activities, which include app development. It is relative since mobile gadgets are a recent phenomenon. As the industry grows, the best designers and developers will have to improve their all-rounded skills. They will have to excel at writing, understanding and signing mobile designer contracts. 

A contract is good in many ways. It protects you from or against liability. Without it, you have no protection from the likelihood of clients taking off with your money. Contracts provide the legal protection you need from working with clients who want you to work longer hours or on more projects without increasing the pay. The contract is your armor when negotiating with a client or doing any work. It protects you for the entirety of the project. It protects you even after you complete and hands the project over to your client. 

Contracts always indicate: 

  • What will happen
  • What is payable
  • What life the project will have once you hand it over

Issues regarding price and copyright also appear on the contract. In fact, the contract does not beat around the bush where these issues are concerned. It delves into each issue deep. 

Contracts Enhance Timely Payments

It is also worth mentioning that you need the mobile design contract if you expect clients to pay you what they owe on time. Payment is a major issue in this industry. Many mobile designers and developers have been left heartbroken and financially broke after delivering finished projects to clients who then refuse to pay. Without a contract, you would have little say in this matter. It will be a matter of your word against the clients. 

The contract should indicate what you are charging and when you expect clients to pay. 

The contract should also indicate how the client is to make payments for work done. For example, you are free to ask for part-payment at the beginning of the project. You are also free to ask the client to pay you the entire amount once you finish and deliver the project. Make sure the contract stipulates these issues and conditions clearly, so the clients are not left in any doubt as to what their roles are. Once more, the contract must tell clients what they will pay for; when they will pay; and, how they will pay. 

Furthermore, the contract legally binds the client from pulling off midstream and disappearing without paying you a dime. Yes, this happens a lot in the mobile design and development industry. 

Feel free to detail the type of payment schedule with which you are the most comfortable. 

Contracts Define Flexible Terms of Payment

Mobile designers and developers are more flexible in terms of payment. They do not need a lot of raw materials to begin any project. They already have everything needed for the work. Because of this, they can opt not to ask for any down payment. However, do not go into any negotiation with a mind already made up that you will not ask the client for some payment upfront. Approach each client with an open mind. Evaluate the kind of work the client has for you. How complex or simple the work is. Ask for down payment if you are working on a highly complicated project. 

Nail down these details on the contract, and you will have more leverage with your clients. 

Contracts and Copyright Issues

The other issue the design contract has to specify is copyright. Who will own the work? When does ownership move from your hands to those of the client? The issue of ownership might also depend on your current location. For example, in places such as the United Kingdom, the mobile designer has all the ownership rights even if the work is for a specific client. Therefore, sign a contract that specifies this issue. Check if the contract sets out the copyright or ownership issues clearly. 

In many instances, designers opt to hand over full ownership rights to the client. In other cases, the designers prefer retaining some of the rights. Stipulate this issue out on the contract regardless of the option you choose. Copyright protects your work. It protects your ideas too. It is also excellent for the clients to whom you hand over ownership rights. There will be times when you are the first one to develop a mobile app. At such moments, you feel the need to retain ownership. Discuss these issues with your clients and have them included in the contract. 

In the United States, you can only transfer copyright via contracts. Evidently, this shows just how important the contract is. The contract declares whether you are still the copyright holder or not. It tackles the tricky issue of transfer of copyright. 

Will you be interested in reacquiring the rights to a mobile app you designed and sold to a client? If you answer in the affirmative, it would be best for you to include this in the mobile design contract too. In the United States, you can set the copyright reacquisition motion in place after a few years. Such a process is known as Termination of Transfer and is quite complex. Before you rush to include or negotiate with the client about this issue, it would be prudent to know that you can only embark on terminating a transfer between 28 and 56 years from the date of publication or release. 

The mobile design contract must be specific. The document does not offer you the chance of being generic. Instead, specify each issue to eliminate the possibility of ambiguity or confusion. In this case, the issues you have to specify include what you intend to deliver to your clients. Let the contract indicate in clear terms the product or service you will provide. Let it specify what you – as the mobile designer or developer – are bringing to the table. Let the contract indicate what your clients should expect to get from you before making the final payment. Do not forget to indicate the timeframe too. When will this work end? When will you submit it to the client? 

Use words that all the parties signing the contract can understand easily. Keep the contract free of any jargon. Use words, phrases, and sentences that make it easier to understand each party’s role. Use words that describe everything you will be doing. Describe what your clients will actually receive. Describe what clients can use from everything they receive. Describe what each product you will deliver is. Additionally, you are better off including a clause that explains the amount of time you are ready to set aside for revisions and support depending on what the client needs. 

The time the design process takes is different from what goes into support and revisions. 

Design contracts protect you again copyright issues
‍Image Credits: phpfuse.net

Contracts and Confidentiality Terms/Clauses

With all the issues above highlighted, you would also need to check what the mobile design contract has to say about confidentiality terms. Do not hesitate to include a confidentiality clause in the contract. This clause covers and protects the businesses of the two signatories to the contract. It protects your business and that of the client. Confidentiality clause or terms protect clients who are yet to launch a product that awaits the mobile app you are designing. The clause comes in handy in such situations by ensuring that you will not talk about the yet-to-be-launched but related product or mobile app. 

Confidentiality clause usually covers the clients. It protects them. 

However, you can use it to ask the client not to talk about your business practices either. 

The two of you may need a separate confidentiality agreement that is not included in the contract. There is nothing wrong with that. However, check that the contract talks about this separate confidentiality agreement. Similar to the clause, the agreement will always protect sensitive information. The confidentiality or non-disclosure agreement applies in certain conditions but not in others. Again, ensure the mobile design contract mentions these applicable and non-applicable conditions. Otherwise, it may gag you permanently. 

The agreement must state and define what can be classified confidential information. Trade secrets are definitely confidential details that neither the designer nor the client should even contemplate talking with to third parties. The agreement – or clause – should indicate the measures or steps to be taken against the person who breaches whatever is in the contract. Usually, the consequences for breaching the agreement include paying damages. The aggrieved party may also have the option of instituting a lawsuit against the guilty person. The court could come down hard against the person who breached the agreement. In most cases, the court expects the guilty individual to meet the costs associated with any loss the aggrieved may incur because of the offense. 

Contracts and Acts of God Clauses

What about the clause known as “Acts of God”? How important is such a clause in the contract? This clause covers all events or happenings that are beyond the control of any person. For example, it may cover events such as earthquakes or flooding. When such events happen, the mobile designer or developer will not be able to finish the project or deliver on time. Such a situation may appear obvious, but the truth is, it is not. Therefore, cover or protect yourself against any unforeseen liability by insisting on the inclusion of this clause in your contract. 

Acts of God may be more familiar within the insurance circles. However, this does not exempt its use in the mobile design industry. Acts of God do not include accidental fires that strike your home. Why? Because the law considers fires – no matter how accidental they are – preventable. Acts of God clause refers to events that you can do nothing about. They refer to events you cannot prevent. A fire that results from lightning that strikes your neighborhood leading to the destruction of several homes would qualify for classification as an act of God. For the avoidance of doubt, the contract should clarify the events it considers Acts of God. 

Therefore, you now know what to expect from the mobile design contract. You have the information that can help you make a good decision as to whether to sign or not sign the contract. Remember, it pays to discuss everything with the client before embarking on any project. Whatever you agree on should appear on the contract, which both of you should sign to make it legal.

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