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Most freelance designers have a duty of bringing out the clients concepts into reality. Being an expert at delivering a client’s vision or designs is a great thing. However, it will not ensure you have a successful career. Protecting your work with solid contract templates is equally important as marketing yourself and building a client base. It is important to legally secure terms and payments by using a thorough and concise freelance design contract template or a simple graphic design contract template.

You can easily get short-changed by clients if you begin working without a graphic design contract. A freelance designer will understand the importance of a contract when hours of work go to waste due to lack of a graphic designer contract. Keep in mind that drafting a graphic design contract is similar to a balancing act – you want to cover your bases while ensuring you do not scare clients with a 50+ page contract. This is why you need to know what is required in such an agreement.

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1. Keeping your graphic design contract template simple

People who consult a legal professional such as a lawyer to draft a simple graphic design contract template may end up having a document which is full of legalese. It may end up confusing clients and offering misinterpretations. The main aim of the graphic designer contract should be direct and clear communication. You should endeavor to outline details of the agreement and project, while avoiding unnecessary padding. A great graphic design contract should break down information to a manageable size, while being ironclad.

Striking a balance between readable and ironclad is not easy. With this in mind, the following are the main points that need to appear in any freelance design contract template:

2. Add project details to your graphic design contract template

Although it may seem obvious, it is usually overlooked. For example, you may have a verbal understanding between you and your client with regards to a project. However, it is mandatory to have the details in writing to ensure your deliverables and roles are crystal clear. This will prevent any misunderstanding in the long run.

Establish your responsibilities as well as the overall framework so that you can decline anything that is not within the agreed terms. For instance, if you do not wish to provide technical support once you complete the project, explicitly include this within your contract. If the client requests for ten versions of the logo and the agreed number was seven, you can refer to this section of the graphic design contract to rule out the additional work.

3. Include deadlines and timelines on your graphic design contract template

Very few people will be comfortable putting in 50+ hours per week. The graphic designer contract should include clauses which limit your working hours for a week. It should also include times the client can contact you during the day. Make sure you add a section that details irregular hours and weekends. Questions to guide you include:

1. Are you willing to work on weekends?

2. Will the client pay extra for working more than 40 hours a week, or during weekends?

3. How quickly will you respond to edits and questions?

Any agreed upon deadlines should also be included in this section. Many designers loathe the idea of having deadline constraints. Take note that it is beneficial to both parties as it will help the client understand when the work will be submitted, and also keep you productive. Deadlines should be set by considering setbacks and allowing extra days. Never jump into a simple graphic design contract template deadline without considering hiccups in the creative process. Give yourself additional time to cater for any setbacks. This way, the client will be pleasantly surprised should you deliver the project before the stipulated deadline.

4. Mention client responsibilities on your graphic design contract template

Make sure the client understands what they are expected to provide in order for you to commence working on the project effectively. Remember to delineate the chain of command, from the client’s side, so that you are not caught up in the middle of a disagreement. The main point of contact should be the person making decisions regarding the project. If this is not the case, clarify all terms of decision-making and communication in the freelance design contract template.

Use this section to include the approval process. If you decide you want signed hard copies, mention it in the simple graphic design contract template. On the other hand, if you prefer email confirmations or virtual signatures, make sure you state that.

Remember to consider potential errors. If there is a typo, you should include the timeframe the client has to notify you about it. Include your pricing for any additional work request such as resizing a graphic. Some graphic designers do not mind tweaking a submitted project at no extra cost. This does not mean you should do the same without compensation.

5. Include deliverables on your graphic design contract template

Always describe the manner you will be delivering the completed project, as well as what the product will include when drafting a graphic designer contract. Describe the file types the client can request, and how you will deliver the files. Do you prefer delivering the final product using a hard/flash drive, or do you prefer using email or cloud? Does the client require the files delivered using a specific method? The freelance design contract template should state every detail regarding the product delivery process.

There should be clause explaining the duration the client can expect you to keep or store the files for future use. If you have archived the files and you are requested for them a few months after delivering the project, should the client pay a fee? Clarity needs to be provided for any foreseen situations to ensure fair compensation for file storage and delivery.

6. Add payment details to your graphic design contract template

For a freelance designer, this is perhaps the most crucial section of a graphic design contract. Here is where you need to detail what method of payment you expect, and when you expect the payment. General best practices require for you, the designer, to be given a deposit of 25% - 50% before commencing the project. The main advantage of such a move is that it will help you trust the client because they’ve committed their part of the bargain and also motivate you to work. It will also ensure you prioritize the client’s project. Clarify when you will be paid the balance. It can be immediately after sending the files or just before you send them.

Any requests for extra payment or additional adjustments that may occur should be justified within the payment details. If you choose to work on an hourly rate, estimate the overall time you will need. Break down the payment to prevent the client from being surprised should you ask for money once you finish the project. If you prefer a flat rate, include any situations that would cause you to request more than the amount you had agreed upon.

The following are some subsections regarding payment that will be helpful:

6.1. Revisions

When it comes to big projects, some designers prefer a flat rate. It is common to provide a quota of free revisions since large projects usually involve a few rounds of edits and feedback. Clearly define what you mean by revisions. You may decide to do small changes free of charge. Sometimes after a mock-up has been approved, a client may request an entire-redo, which means they are likely going beyond the agreed upon project parameters.

In the freelance design contract template, include the cost of revisions once the client has exceeded their free quota. This will help you avoid spending more time doing extra work without compensation. Many designers opt for an hourly rate at this point. If the client decides they want you to do an offshoot project – let’s say an extra page on the website you just completed – do not consider this as a revision. Instead, you should think of it more of a new project and charge a flat rate.

6.2. Cancellation clauses

We would all like our projects to run 100% smoothly. Unfortunately, this can never be the case. When you or the clients wants to terminate a contract, the freelance design contract template should ensure the protocol is clear using a cancellation clause.

If a client decides to terminate a project, how much should they pay you? What is the termination process, and what should be done in such a scenario? This mostly applies to payment, but should also consider the return of sensitive materials and licensed images. Make sure there is a cancellation clause in your simple graphic design contract template to prevent a headache should the situation arise.

6.3. Acts of God

A legal “Act of God” means an unforeseen situation beyond human control that renders you incapable of completing a project within the stipulated timeframe. Even though it can happen especially when using digital storage. For example, your office or apartment may flood, and all of your storage and hardware is destroyed, or the same locations may be burglarized. At some point, you may be unable to finish a project or meet a deadline, even when you have finely tuned workflow.

In such a scenario, the client needs to know what to expect. Some freelance designers do not mind forfeiting the balance of payment. If you are a beginner and every project counts, the clause should protect the delivery of payment, and ask for additional time to complete the project. The best way to ensure the clause is mutually beneficial is working it out with the client.

6.4. Confidentiality

In any freelance design contract template, confidentiality should be an expected clause. This is because you will be handling sensitive, private information of the client pertaining to things such as marketing strategies and product launches. Many clients will provide you with a contract or confidentially clause. You have the option of negotiating the exact terms and including them in your graphic designer contract to ensure you are comfortable with the contents.

The designs you create may or may not be sensitive and secretive. As such, you should know the parts of the design you are allowed to display and where, within the standard confidentiality nomenclature. Will the client allow you to upload their project on your website as part of your portfolio? If they do, at what point will the designs cease to be confidential?

6.5. Credit and promotions

This clause is in tandem with the above point. Include a clause that stipulates how and when you can use the work you created for the client. Majority of contracts have allowances for a designer to use work made for the client on the designer’s portfolio and website as a means of self-promotion. Some clauses allow designers to retain the right to exhibit the work and submit it to competitions once it has been made public.

You will also need to be credited fairly for your hard work. The freelance design contract template should include how you should be credited, whether it is in a competition, an award, or press release. Keep in mind some clients will not want you to promote or showcase their work under any circumstances. Your promotion clause needs to be adjusted on a case-by-case basis.

6.6. Additional information

The following are not specific clauses, but you may have to keep them in mind:

1. Always get a signature – This is very important. Emailing a client a copy of the simple graphic design contract template will not hold up legally and is not enough to protect you. Insist, politely, that the client provides a signed copy of your graphic designer contract before you commence the project. Offer your clients options to send the signature using a method they prefer, whether it’s through the mail, via email, or fax.

2. Allow for customization – Ideally, drafting a freelance design contract template, you can alter to suit any project if need be. Omit, add, and adjust clauses as needed when discussing project needs with different clients to prevent redundancy in any part of your graphic design contract.

One of the best resources you can use to draft a freelance design contract template is contacts of other designers. Check out their simple graphic design contract templates by requesting for the same or visiting their websites. Even though they may not have the same clauses mentioned above, they will have some information that can help you with the drafting process.

You may also get additional insight on other clauses that may suit your needs. There are more collections of sample clauses you can find online to help you come up with the best contract for a particular project. Remember always to consult a renowned professional or legal professional who is licensed. They can help you come up with an airtight contract that will prevent you from being exploited in any way.

6.7. Project details

A detailed description of what you’ll be designing. Include how many versions you’ll design, and how you’ll be delivering the work (i.e. file formats).

6.8. Schedule of deliverables

  • When will you complete the first draft of a design?
  • What about the revisions?
  • When can the client expect the final version?

All of this needs to be clearly outlined.

6.9. Who owns the copyright?

And how ownership will be transferred.

6.10. How you’ll be paid for your design work

State the overall cost, cost breakdown, due dates for payments, desired method of payment, and if late fees apply.

6.11. How the contract can be terminated

And what happens to the money paid and money owed in such a scenario.

7. How to create a freelance graphic design contract template PDF

Being a successful freelance graphic designer goes beyond having excellent design skills. A freelance graphic designer must have communication, marketing, accounting, and other business skills to remain relevant in the niche.

For instance, a graphic design freelancer should be able to draft a contract from a freelance graphic design contract template (PDF).

Although you can draft such a contract from scratch, we do not advise that, especially if you are not an expert at writing business documents. We recommend that you use a freelance graphic design contract template in PDF format. You can get different templates online, but for what other reasons should you use such pdf templates? Before we answer that question, let’s give you some details about a freelance graphic design contract.

7.1. About the freelance graphic design contract template PDF

It is a template (in PDF format) of a graphic design contract - a legal document of agreement binding on two parties, a graphic designer and the client, for design services. To allow designers to focus on the core aspect of their business, there are different templates of this type of contract online that they can use. You only have to make sure that such a template contains the essential information of the contract.

We have highlighted the essential fields of a freelance graphic design contract template (PDF) that you should look out for below:

  • Job description field
  • The expected time of delivery
  • Payment information
  • Ownership and copyright information
  • Conditions for termination
  • Signature and date
Graphic Design Contract Template PDF
Image credits:

7.2. Why you need a graphic design contract

You might be wondering why you need a contract for your graphic design freelancing business. We have been able to get two main reasons from lots of graphic designers and clients, and have discussed these briefly below.

7.2.1. A graphic design contract template protects the designer

To produce high-quality designs and ensure clients get the best, freelance graphic consultants spend hours designing and perfecting their work. So, it is to their detriment if any client decides not to pay for their services or if such a client goes on AWOL. There have been reports of such occurrence in the past, and the graphic design consultants lost time as well as wasted efforts since they didn’t have an HR team to fight their course.

You can avoid such situations by protecting yourself. To do that, you have to draft a contract that will be binding on you and your client. Thankfully, you don’t have to do this from scratch; you can simply use a freelance graphic design contract template (PDF format).

7.2.2. Your graphic design contract template communicates the design details to clients

It has been reported that most clients like it when the graphic design consultant they hire make available a document that contains the complete details of the work to be done. Usually, it helps them to understand the extent of work to be done, thereby justifying whatever amount the designer might have charged them for the work.

Following various comments online from graphic design clients, they consider such effort from the freelancer to be very professional. Many of them even agreed that it influences whether they will rehire such consultants or not in the future.

7.2.3. Use the design contract template avert disagreement

We have received reports of several occasions where two parties disagree over a freelance graphic design project. Usually, clients may require the graphic designer to make some revisions or add some additional features to the design, but the designer insists that such revisions or additions were not part of the job.

To avoid issues like that, having a contract drafted from a freelance graphic design contract template in PDF format is recommended. Such a contract contains the contract details and fundamental requirements of the clients. So, it can be used for comparison, and as a document for settlement, perhaps there is disagreement.

8. How to create a design contract template

A freelance professional must be able to create a design which immediately catches users' attention. If your design fails to be attractive, 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.

8.1. How to design a foolproof graphic design contract?

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. 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
  • deliverables
  • 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.

8.2. What should be in your graphic design agreement template?

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 ow 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.

  1. you’re a freelancer
  2. you will operate on your schedule
  3. 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 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.

8.3. Tips for making design contracts free 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.

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.

9. How to create a design agreement template

A design agreement is an agreement made between a freelance designer and their client. The document should clearly outline the scope of work, project milestones and deadlines, intellectual property rights, and payment terms. 

Here we take a look at why you need a contract, what you need to include, and our top tips for getting it just right.  

9.1. Why do you need a design agreement?

Above all else, you need a structured and easy-to-follow design agreement to protect your freelance design business

You should never enter into a contract with a client without first clarifying what it is you’re being asked to design; when you need to deliver it by; and how much you’re going to be paid. 

Undertaking a design project without a solid contract in place could lead to you being taken advantage of, having your precious time wasted, or being left chasing payment with no avenue for legal action. 

10.3. Our tips for creating a winning design agreement

Read on to discover exactly what you can do to ensure your agreement is both professional and secure.

10.3.1. Don’t skimp on the details of the graphic design contract template

Even if you and your client have verbally agreed on what the design should look like and how the project will work, it’s vitally important that you get it all down in writing. 

Doing so will prevent your client from moving the goalposts at the last second, requesting five additional designs to the five you’ve already agreed, or expecting the fourth round of revisions when you said you’d only do three.

This is called ‘scope creep’ and it’s a common issue faced by designers. But it’s one that can be effectively managed by a clearly defined and detailed design agreement. 

By pointing to the words in a contract, you can establish (and re-establish, when necessary) your role, responsibilities, and deliverables, while also keeping your client’s expectations in check. And it’s far more effective than asking them to recall a conversation you had weeks or months ago! 

Graphic Design Agreement Template
Image Credits:

10.2. Give yourself a life using the graphic design contract template

Work/life balance has never been more important, and that counts double for freelance designers — especially those who work from home. 

Thanks to smartphones, email and messaging apps, it’s all too easy to react to a client’s demands and burn the midnight oil working on tweaks and changes. Sometimes you’ll need a clear and structured design contract to ride to the rescue.

Use your agreement to:

  • Set boundaries with your client and establish working hours. Attach costs to weekend or out-of-hours work. 
  • Let clients know when and how they can contact you about revisions, and when they can expect a reply.
  • Establish “rush fees” if the client needs something turned around in a matter of hours.

Essentially, you need your contract to protect your business and your social life! 

10.3. Use design payment best practices

It’s probably the single most important part of any design contract: How and when you’ll be paid for your work. 

To smooth the path to payment, there are a few best practices that you can include in your design contract.

Prior to work commencing, you should receive a deposit — typically 50% of the total fee. This gives you protection from any cash flow concerns while you start work on the project, and also motivates you to complete your design in a timely manner to secure the remainder of the fee.

You should also clarify when you expect the final payment. This will usually be after a pre-determined number of revisions and an agreement that the final draft is, in fact, the final draft. Remember, payment should be made in full before any usable, non-watermarked files are delivered to the client.

Any additional revisions over and above the agreed-upon number can be charged at an hourly rate. You should define what is meant by a revision in this case. Fixing a typo is very different from being asked to completely change the creative direction of a project.

Follow these tips and make sure your next design agreement keeps you safe from scope creep, protects your social life, and gets you paid on time. 

11. How to create a design service agreement template

If you provide a professional design service, you will need a couple of documents to make your everyday business seamless and secure. Besides your design abilities, you'd have to handle some paperwork, including invoicing and drafting service agreements. Sometimes, a client may present you with a service agreement that defines your business relationship with his/her organization. Design professionals know and hear about signing a service agreement for every job and writing effective statements of work.

But the question is, what exactly should they sign? In this article, we’d cover the basics of a design service agreement and what it must contain before you append your signature. Also, you should know if the content of the agreement is reasonable enough to commit yourself to the agreement. And if you are planning to draft yours, we'll take you through the guideline on how to come up with a solid proposal. 

Graphic Design Agreement Template Example
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A design service agreement is an important business document that defines business relationships, roles, and compensation of an agreement. You should understand the document 100% before writing or signing one. We will discuss the agreement or contract types for a consultant or freelance designer.

A web design service agreement is nothing but a document that defines the code production, job scope, compensation, and terms of work between a client and a designer. Creating this type of agreement involves repeating the content of your proposal plus other details you've agreed on with a client.

It is worth being detailed in this type of design service agreement to clarify the goals and objectives of the project. Also, consider adding necessary clauses to avoid multiple reworks after completion. If you specify the limit of revisions permitted, subsequent revision requests automatically trigger your hourly charge. 

If you work with XHTML or the HTML makeup templates, consider using HTML5 markup and CSS3 for styling and give room for testing and acceptance before launching.

Every design service agreement will cover the following information:

  • Overview of client and the designer. This section includes the information of the participants, why the client is hiring the designer, when and for who much.
  • Scope of work and the responsibilities of each participant.
  • What happens if a party decides to withdraw from the agreement?
  • A section that takes care of liabilities, intellectual property right and legal.

If what you do is graphics other than coding, the format above also applies to your design service agreement. But in your case, there is more focus on graphic arts and sections that deal with you retaining as many rights as possible to your creation. Negotiate with the client and agree on ownership rights of intellectual properties created during the business relationship.

Sometimes, design service agreement take the form of independent service agreements. In this case, the operational part of the document (usually a milestone, SOW, compensation, etc.) remains the same, but the document usually includes intellectual property assignment. This type of design service agreement is particular to freelancers and independent consultants that create intellectual properties and patent technologies.

The section here is different from the licensing flexibility that we discussed above, which is client-specific. Another type of service agreement that an independent may come across is the "work-for-hire" agreement. Creative professionals like freelance designers and writers use this agreement to license their work by separating it from what a client has paid for. 

12. Example of a company offering the service

Rule number one for freelance designers is to always use a graphic design contract! Whether you're working with a new client or doing repeat business, it's always best to clearly outline the terms of your work.

Bonsai has worked with top lawyers to create a simple, powerful template contract for freelance designers. It's written in plain English, and contains all the language you need to start the client relationship well.

There are three main areas our freelance design contracts focus on. You should spend extra time thinking about and making these clear with the client. The first is the scope of work. Since the design is a wide discipline and clients may not be very sophisticated, you should be very clear with the client exactly what you will be producing for them.

The second part of the freelance design contract is the payment information. What will you get paid for your work, and when are the payments due? How will the client pay? What happens if they don't pay? These are all terms that are very important to you!

Last but not least is intellectual property ownership. Intellectual property ownership should only transfer over to the client once they have paid all their invoices. However, you should be careful to note whether the client only owns the final product, or all sketches, designs, and ideas that went into the WordPress site.

Bonsai's freelance design contracts contain all these clauses and more to protect you and your client.


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