What do you call 50 dead lawyers at the bottom of the ocean? ..
A good start.
I can actually hear you groan. Love them or hate them lawyers are a part of life. My objective of this article is to avoid confrontation all together by outlining a few items to keep in mind so you too can have a successful website project and avoid any nasty legal battles.
You met up with someone and talked about getting your website done. He/she seems like a good person. You liked everything they said and you can’t for the life of you envision them screwing you over.
So should you get what was discussed in writing?
Yes, but not for the reasons you might think.
You might think to yourself, “of course I would sign a contract. If I don’t get what I was promised I can sue and get my money back”. Although this may indeed be a sound reason to sign a contract I can think of a much better reason.
A good website has soo many variables to consider that it can be overwhelming, particularly to a non-technical person. If you want to see more on this subject you can check out my previous article “What are the costs involved with having a website created”.
- Domain name Registration – Which Registrar? In Who’s name? For how long?
- Hosting – How much disk space?, How much monthly traffic?, How fast?, Shared or Private?
- Design – What layout (two or three columns)?, What colors and where? How many revisions?
- Features – Do you need a shopping cart?, What about security?, Which Content Management System – What is a Content Management System?, Back Ups – who is doing it, backed up to where, how often?
- Maintenance – Who will do updates? (what kind of updates – content, security, themes) How often?
“I thought that feature was included in the price” “I assumed the website was responsive on various devices.”
For a successful website project I strongly believe that there is responsibility on both parties to do some homework.
The client should take the time to educate themselves on the features and elements that go into the website they envision and where they don’t understand an aspect of the project they should speak up and ask and don’t make assumptions. A good web professional would be happy to answer such questions in a clear and concise manner. In fact most will be happy you asked. If they are unwilling or unable to do so-proceed with caution.
The Web Professional
The Web professional should take the time to educate themselves on what specifically the client expectations are. Which features and/or elements are necessary, and how much time it will take to complete the necessary tasks. The web professional should provide clear (and as non-technical as possible) explanations to questions asked in a timely manner.
I view a contract as a good tool to outline these very things. Now having said that I do have one caution. Due to the huge amount of details in developing a website, if you were to write down every single little detail you would end up with a contract that takes 3 days to write and about 30 pages to read. Who has that kind of time? So there is a need to balance documenting the important points of the project while having a contract that isn’t too lengthy and full of language few can understand.
One last suggestion that I give to both clients and web professionals. If you don’t have trust in the other person move on until you find someone you do. If your gut is telling you somethings not right, listen to it. When both parties do their homework they lower the risk that there will be misunderstandings and/or conflict. A good contract outlining obligations about who’s going to do what and when and for how much will go a long way towards your next successful website project.
p.s. I hope any lawyers reading this have a good sense of humor.
Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. The above are only my opinions. Please contact a licensed attorney should you have issues of a legal nature and/or for professional legal advice.