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What should be in a website design and development agreement?

If you design and develop websites you need to put in place agreements which have a detailed specification for development of the site including issues such as site content, functionality, design/look and feel and performance levels.   The specification would also deal with any content which you are to generate, such as text or graphics and content you expect from the customer such as text or photographs.

These are some of the areas the agreement would need to cover:

 Project Plan/Timetable

  • Whilst the timetable would contractually bind you to meet key milestones the agreement would specifically state that the timescale is subject to your getting information and feedback required by you (from your client) at every stage.
  • The timetable for implementation of the development should cover: agreement on the specification, delivery of a pilot website, customer feedback, acceptance testing and launch of the live site.


Ideally, the agreement should provide for a substantial proportion of the charges to be payable on signature of the agreement (and not be made conditional on acceptance). This would then be followed by a monthly charge and/or a final payment on completion of the development.

Intellectual Property Rights

One of the biggest issues is the question of who owns the intellectual property rights in the website. Clients may seek an outright transfer of intellectual property rights but if you are licensing intellectual property rights this can be included in the standard document.

Infringement of intellectual property rights is also relevant where your client provides content, in which case the agreement should contain an indemnity in your favour which would kick in should there be a third party claim for breach of those intellectual property rights


Hosting the website would necessitate a separate agreement and particular care would be needed if the site has message board or chat-room facilities to apportion responsibility between you and your client for ensuring that content posted by visitors does not contain material which is illegal.

Maintenance and support

If you are to provide maintenance and support of the website a separate agreement will be needed.

Other issues

If a third party is responsible for website design (the look and feel of the site) but you take responsibility for the overall structure of the site (and integration of the two) there is a possibility of a dispute as to whether a failure to achieve acceptance under the agreement is due to a design or development failure.   The agreement would need to cover this.

You and your client will have to address a number of legal issues such as the mechanics of online contracting, distance selling, advertising, data protection and copyright notices.

Call Jane Latham for initial free no obligation advice and fixed Fee quote for drafting website contracts: 01225 287516 or e mail:



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