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Your website design contract

Web Site Design Buyer's Guide

If you've opted for a conventional website package with standard features, you'll have a contract with an itemised, fixed cost; details of what you need to provide; and a completion date.

For a more complex project, the website design supplier will give you an estimate based on any discussions you've had with them. The estimate should include the hours needed for design, development and testing together with the appropriate costs. Please note that the figures are estimates, so ensure the contract requires the company to tell you immediately if it will exceed the given number of hours. You don't want any costly surprises once the work is complete.

With the most complicated projects, there's a further part to the process. Following your agreement to the first estimate, the website design supplier will come back to you and talk about the fine detail of your requirements. The supplier will then send you a document that gives all of this detail including some initial mock-up pages for you to comment on. This is your opportunity to ensure the supplier understands what you want and is heading in the right direction. When you're ready, you sign the document on the understanding that it forms the basis of your contract.

But whatever the length of the contract and the detail in it, ensure the following issues are covered.

  • Itemised costs for each aspect of the service
  • Clear estimates with a requirement for advance notice of possible extra charges
  • Completion dates for each stage of the work and any penalties for failing to meet these
  • Opportunities for you to give feedback together with reasonable time periods for you to do so
  • Any details of hosting, including guarantees of site availability
  • Details of any maintenance arrangement
  • A contact point for any enquiries you may have
  • Details of who within the company is responsible for each stage of the project
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