What is a website development contract?
A website development contract is a binding agreement for a web developer to create or evolve a website for a client. Different from a web design contract, this is a legal document specifically for developers which includes their payment schedule, web hosting requirements, intellectual property rights, and more.
A web development agreement is the last legal document between a developer and client to change hands before work ensues. Before this, you'll want to align on specifics such as a web development proposal.
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Why you need a web developer contract
A web development agreement is critical for both the client and the web developer. Web development contracts align both parties on the expectations of the web project and legally bind them to their agreement.
When you have this type of contract in place, both parties can enter the working agreement knowing they are legally protected should things take a turn. With a solid contract, you know you can start your first sprint without worries.
What should be included in a freelance web developer contract?
Whether you're creating a web development agreement from scratch or deciding to work from a contract template, there are a few things that every web development contract needs. Follow this list and your contract won’t be full of bugs.
Detailed description of work
The first thing you want to kick off within your web development agreement is a detailed description of the work. This will be what you've previously agreed upon with the client during the proposal phase. It’s also a good idea to present this information with a scope of work template before sending your contract for signing.
The description of work gives a good overview of what the project entails. For example, this could include the build of a website, acquiring the domain name, and the maintenance of the website for up to three months post-release.
Project requirements and responsibilities
Here is where you'll want to go into finer detail about the development services you've agreed to do. It's important to mention any stakeholders for this project and the role they'll play in your web development agreement.
For example, it could look something like this:
Client: approves ideas and out of scope spend
Web developer: responsible for website build
Graphic designer: provides the web developer with desired graphics
UX designer: provides the web developer with high-fidelity mockups and research
You'll also want to break down the stages the developer goes through to complete a project. This can include:
Communication is crucial in every web or app development agreement you make. So crucial, in fact, that it deserves its own clause. Define how you'll communicate with the client—whether that's on a day-to-day basis or regular reporting basis throughout the project.
In this clause, you’ll also want to make sure the client agrees to your contact hours, and layout costs if the client needs something outside of your designated hours.
As an independent contractor, one of the most important things you can do to keep a client happy is to communicate.
Some of the best advice you'll receive when creating your own contract is to lay out your payment terms, and bring attention to them when you present your contract.
You need to ensure the client pays you at the end of the day and within your terms. So, here’s a list of things to include in this clause to secure yourself an easy payday:
- Payment terms
- Payment dates
- Out of scope project pay
- Extra consultancy hours
- Payment of subcontractors
- Quotation and invoicing details
- Payment method
You may be hired to build a website for the client, but once the work is over, your client will want full ownership of the site. This means it will be their intellectual property and that they will own the rights to the website and can do with it what they wish.
Contract templates without an intellectual property clause can end up in sticky situations for both parties. Not only do they state who has ownership of what, they also protect sensitive information like trade secrets. For example, who owns the source code after the work is complete?
Although the developer or web designer may not own the rights to the website, the client can give them the right to use the work in their digital portfolio. Plus, if the client loves your work, you can even win a review from them too.
Termination of contract
There may come the point when your web development agreement needs to be terminated. In this situation, it's best to seek legal advice with a concrete termination clause.
This clause defines what deems the termination of a contract, the written notice either party will have to give, what happens to the work the developer created so far, and the promised payment.
This termination clause should be present in all of your contract templates.
Last on your list for web development agreements are the extras.
- What's unique to this particular agreement?
- What more does the client promise to deliver for it to be a success?
- What happens if the developer uses their own tools to build the website?
Also consider liability for responses, the maintenance of the fully-functioning website, if the client needs to provide timely feedback, and anything else you've missed from the above necessary clauses.
What's the benefit of using Bonsai instead of editing a template yourself?
All Bonsai contract templates are legally vetted and ready when you are. You can save time, money, and resources from building a contract template from scratch and instead use a trusted platform to build and deliver one for you.
How to create a web development contract template with Bonsai
Web development agreements and contract templates with Bonsai are simple to create and work with.
- Sign up to Bonsai for free
- Choose to edit a template or build a new one
- Add all your necessary details
- Store it for later or send it to your client
The client then decides if they agree to the contract, can then sign it online, and you'll be notified when it's ready.
Web development contract FAQs
How do I write a web development contract?
A freelance web development contract is one of the few essential legal documents for your work. It needs the following clauses for it to be useful to you and your client:
- A detailed description of work
- Project scope
- Communication terms
- Payment details
- Intellectual property rights
- A project termination clause
Is web development still a good career?
Yes! Whether you're working as a freelancer or building a large web design agency, web development is a lucrative market. Front, back and especially full stack developers are in high demand, and this is expected to increase. There’s a greater demand than ever before from customers to have a positive online experience. Web development is an essential role for online businesses to utilize and meet this demand.
Sample website development agreement
That's a wrap for your web development agreement necessities. If you're ready to get your hands on your web development contract template, you can sign-up to Bonsai here and get going in a few clicks.
The entire agreement template is available for you to twist and tweak as you see fit, while having a legally vetted bare-bones template you know you can rely on.