In previous entries I’ve discussed pitching to a client, and misconceptions common to web development work, along with solutions to common problems. If successful, the initial meeting with a client is usually followed by creating a mockup (typically showing the front of the site and one other page). Acceptance of this mockup (or a first revision) initiates an agreement to build the site, and a contract is written up. A first payment from the client covering the time and work undertaken to that point and as well as acting as a deposit for future development is made as when the client accepts the contract.

All professional work requires a written contract between the client and customer. A well-written contract sets the scope of work, defines the expectations and responsibilities of both parties, and sets deadlines and a payment schedule. Contracts are written no matter who the client is( family members often make the worst clients: they assume that you will do work for free, and often have few reservations about using a sense of familial obligation to get what they want), and for any work above a few hours in duration.

I’ve placed a copy of the typical website development contract I use below, and attached a Word version for your use. A few important points to note:

  1. This contract assumes that the website is created completely from scratch: that no previous version of the site exists, and that the client has not purchased a domain name or hosting. It also assumes that the client will provide all body copy and photographs. Obviously, this will not be the case for every job. You will need to customize the contract for each client.
  2. Very important legalese: in providing this template I am not responsible for loss, damages, injury or legal consequences from its use, or of that from contracts derived from this work.

Web Development Contract

This document constitutes a contract between _____(name, or company)_____ (hereafter referred to as the "client") and _____(name, or company)_____ (hereafter referred to as the "developer") for the creation of a website to represent _____(name, or company)_____, for the purposes of _____(primary purpose of site)_____.

The website is currently envisioned to be ____(brief description of site)_____.

There are several aspects to development of a website, and clarity in terms of areas of responsibility is vitally important. These areas are enumerated below.

Domain name
_________(details of domain name(s) purchased, costs, renewal period, responsibilities, etc)_________
Text content
The main text content of the website (hereafter referred to as "body copy") is any text unit over a sentence in length. All body copy will be supplied by, and is the responsibility of, the client. Text units that are a sentence or smaller in length (such as navigation and copyright statements) are the responsibility of, and will be written by, the developer.
Photographs will be supplied by the client. Photographs may be edited or enhanced by the developer. The sole exception to this will be incidental or background photographs, which will be purchased by the developer. A budget of $___ will be included for image purchase and licensing, of which $___ has been used to date.
Other graphical content
Other graphical content includes logo(s) and animations. The developer has responsibility for this area, with feedback, guidance and right of refusal by the client.
Search Engine Optimisation
The website will be developed in such a manner as to maximise search engine readability. When complete, the website will be listed with Google and Bing. The developer does not guarantee association of the website with particular search terms, nor page ranking in search engine results.
Copyright and Ownership
The client will, at all times, retain full and complete copyright and ownership of all content produced for the website. The developer reserves the right to reference or show work developed for the website as part of his portfolio and body of work, subject to the restrictions of an NDA.
Claims of Fact
The client is legally responsible for all claims made on the website.
The developer will be responsible for finding a web hosting provider for the website, and for uploading all content to said host. Payment for hosting services will be made by the developer and remitted to the client via an ongoing maintenance contract (see below). The developer is not responsible for security, uptime, bandwidth use (and charges associated with excessive use of herein) or other areas that could reasonably be held to be that of the hosting provider.
Technologies Used
The website, as discussed between the developer and client, will be ___ pages of body copy, photos and illustrations. HTML5 and CSS will be used for data and presentation. PHP will be used for server side includes. MySQL will be used to store date-dependent data, such as news items and tournament details. JPEG format images will the used for photographs, and GIFs for logos and illustrations, where appropriate. JavaScript may be used to enhance content. A favicon will be supplied for all pages. Page content will be optimized to load as quickly as possible over both broadband and standard copper Internet connections.
Technologies Not Used
At this point in time, no animation, video or audio is required for the website. No Flash, 3D renderings or motion graphics are expected to be used.
Browsers Supported
The website will be viewable and usable on browsers released to the public in the last five years. The website will be visible on mobile devices, and will have a separate CSS style sheet for printing purposes.
Time For Completion
The website is anticipated to take __ hours to complete, once all content has been received from the client. A completion date will be provided once all content, as delimited in the "Responsibilities" section above, has been supplied.
Approval of Work
The client has been supplied with graphical mockups of each major page of the site. With the client’s approval of the mockups, development of HTML pages will begin. The client will have the ability to proof each page (on a password-protected website not accessible to the public, or via eMail), and further changes can be made before the web page is made public.
Invoicing and Payment
The hourly rate for all development on the web site, including code and graphic work, is $__ per hour. Website development is expected to take __ hours, generating an expected cost of $____. Added to this will be costs for media (detailed in (3), above), maintenance and hosting (detailed in (15), below) and other billable hours (13)). No GST will be charged unless required by the client.

Payment is requested to be made in three instalments: $___ at the start of work (acceptance and signing of this invoice), $___ at the mid-point of development (no less than three weeks after development begins) and the remaining balance supplied upon completion of the website. The client will be invoiced for each instalment in the manner they request, and payment is requested within two weeks of the client's receipt of invoice. If made by cheque, payment is requested to be made to ____________.

Billable hours
Face-to-face meetings are billed at $___ per hour, not including travel time inside of ___(city)____. (Exceptions include the first meeting between the developer and client and any other meetings required before this contract is signed).
Phone calls and eMails are not billed for during development time, unless the phone calls are longer than 15 minutes, at which point they are billed at $__ per hour (1 hour minimum, billed in hourly increments). Development hours are billed at $__ per hour.
If it appears, due to unexpected circumstances or an expanded scope of work, that development time will be overshot by __ or more hours, the developer will inform the client and determine how best to proceed. This notice must be given before __ hours of work have been invoiced.
After the website is completed and approved, it will be made available to the public. The developer will charge a monthly maintenance fee of $__ for the website, paid in 12 month instalments (i.e. $___ per year). This covers hosting fees, registration of the domain name, and 1 hour of maintenance on the website per month that the client may use at his discretion for additions or changes to website content. This hour of maintenance work is limited to that month, and cannot be exchanged or added to hours, used or unused, of other months. Changes or updates that take more than 1 hour will be charged at $__ per hour. The client will be given time estimates for work carried out under the maintenance contract, and billed at the end of each month if more than 1 hour of work is committed to.

The first maintenance payment will be due on the first day of the month following final approval of the website by the client, and every year on that date thereafter.


The developer will endeavour to make himself available for contact at all times, but occasionally other work commitments may leave him unable to respond for several hours. eMail is almost always the best method of communication, although calls to the phone number given below will be responded to as quickly as possible.

________contact information, including mailing address, phone number(s) and eMail_______

Right of Cancellation
The client has the right to cancel development or maintenance at any time, by eMail, voice, fax or letter. Work created before cancellation remains the property and copyright of the client, as defined in "Copyright and Ownership" (6) above. Payments made to the developer before cancellation will not be refunded.
Commencement of work

Work will not be commiserate on the signing of this contract; the developer is taking on faith the good intentions of the client, and has begun work already. However, finalising and signing this contract within two weeks would be greatly appreciated.

I understand and agree to the expectations and conditions of this contract.

Signed this day of _______________________________

Client : _______________________________

Developer: ___________________________

Word documentWord version of Web Development Contract available for download.

Enjoy this piece? I invite you to follow me at to learn more.