Website Development Agreements

Your website is the shop front of your company, which is why it’s crucial to get it right. Beyond branding and copy, you’ll need development help to get your site off the ground. However, without the right legal backing, you can quickly lose ownership over one of your most important assets or have no redress mechanism if things go wrong. To assert the rights of your website and ensure it is developed the way you want, you’ll need a website development agreement in place.

A website development agreement is used to define the scope of work needed between a client and a developer (or development agency) in the creation of a website. This includes the terms of the arrangement and the ownership of the final product. Not only that, but a robust agreement will include terms related to hosting, support, and ongoing maintenance of the website.

What should you be thinking about as a supplier?

Entering into a website development agreement as a supplier involves careful consideration of various terms and conditions to protect both parties and ensure a smooth collaboration. A priority for you should be to ensure that your liability is appropriately excluded and limited.  An equal priority for you will be payment - ensuring payment is linked to issue of your invoice(s), rather than delivery of deliverables/meeting of milestones. You will likely see push back on this from the customer, so be prepared!

Ensuring that any IP owned by you in providing services and the deliverables remains owned by you throughout your relationship. Factor this into your contract and ensure the granting of appropriate licenses is considered.

You should clearly define what you are and are not providing - including a right to suspend performance if any invoice isn’t paid by its applicable due date. You should also think ahead to termination and consequences of termination - ensure you have a right to terminate for convenience and in the occurrence of specific events including pre-insolvency of the customer.

What should you be thinking about as a customer?

As a customer entering into a website development agreement, it's crucial to carefully review the terms to ensure that your interests are protected and that the project runs smoothly. Focus on clearly defining the scope of work, project specifications, ownership, timelines, and payment terms (including a mechanism for disputing costs and control over expenses) to ensure that the developer delivers a website that meets your requirements and expectations.

If you will allow sub-contracting by the supplier, you should include a provision that requires such sub-contractors to subject to your prior written approval.

As one of your biggest assets, you should work with your supplier to ensure any testing of the website and/or other Deliverables is subject to a robust testing mechanism. If ultimately the website and/or other Deliverables don’t pass testing, a right to a rebate of all/relevant fees paid should be feasible within your contract.  

You'll want to reduce your liability as much as possible whilst maximising your supplier’s liability limits at an acceptable level relevant to your business.

Too often we've seen relationships come to an end prior to the initial term, for many reasons, but it's important to consider this at the stage of your contract drafting to ensure that on termination you’re only liable to pay for things properly provided under the contract, rather than the entire contract fees.  

No contractural but beware of legal creep! Many website developers also include privacy notices and website terms as part of the package you buy. Be wary of these – these are legal documents which may not be correct for your business!

How can we help?

Your website is the digital bridge between you and would-be customers. As a result, it’s a pivotal component of your commercial strategy, and a revenue lifeline. An expert lawyer can help you understand your rights while closing off any vulnerabilities that would put your business at risk.

In need of support from tech savvy commercial contract lawyers in the UK? Get in touch with our team.

How to get started

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