Contract for first website

Hello everyone, this is my first post here. This is a wonderful place for non techies like me to ask web business matters.

I am in the process of contracting a website developer/designer team to make a website for me. So far a friend (who is a web developer) has made the initial contacts. Now its time for me to finalize the matter. Before I do so I would like to know what sort of contract should I have with this gentleman. What clauses are essential for me to incorporate into the contract–performance clauses, payment, design/development flaws, after sales support to ensure the site performs after handing over.

Who is responsible if there are flaws in the website, how do I verify that the website is functioning.

I know I’m asking for everything, but essentially I want to know what binds us into a proper contract.
This is my first website and thus its my first step.
Also I need the website to be SEO friendly. What do i have to ask the developer do so that he designs and develops accordingly.

Have you had a search around the forums yet? There is a lot of info about contracts here and all your general questions will already have been covered, so perhaps you’ll get better responses here if you have a read around and come back with some more specific questions?

Also I need the website to be SEO friendly. What do i have to ask the developer do so that he designs and develops accordingly.

Define what you consider ‘SEO friendly’ to be and ask the developer if he is able to make the site adhere to your definition. If so, get it put in the contract.

Also, remember most developers will already have their own contract, so normally a client will negotiate new terms or changes from that document. I think many developers will be somewhat cautious of any client bearing contracts upon them :slight_smile:

You asked a lot of good questions already. The answers are important to you but understand that if they are missing, you will still likely have a binding contract. Once you get beyond the bare essential terms (such as price and a general description of the services), there will be enough to bind you to make the payment. That is why it is important for you to make sure that your expectations are spelled out.

Most contracts for website development are prepared by the developer and are very good at protecting the developer. They often fail, however, to adequately spell out things from the client’s viewpoint. That is up to you.

As suggested by shadowbox, there are some very good threads about website development contracts on this forum. Many discussions are about what the developer should watch for, so you may have to dig a little deeper to find ones that discuss the contract from the client’s perspective, but those discussions are here.

I would expect the developer to send a contract, and once they do you’ll have an idea of what terms/conditions they are asking you to agree to. Then you can consider the details as they pertain to your own situation. Trying to determine every factor that ‘should’ be in a contract seems less useful than just reacting to what is given to you by the developer.

Also, you need to consider the total liability and damages that this engagement will bring to you. If you are talking about a $1000 website that isn’t handling sensitive information or doing financial transactions (or any other risky thing) then maybe you don’t need to worry about all of this so much.

Never thought about how to define SEO friendly. I assumed that a website would/could be made optimized for SEO.

Yes that is what I’ve discovered, that the client’s perspective is missing on most discussions. Although even the web developers perspective does shed some light, but clearly not enough. I’ll dive a little deeper and see what I come across. Thanks.

Sage, Ive seen some of your posts while I’ve been romancing the forum as a guest. You do have an interesting outlook that is business oriented.
In my case, This website is a dinosaur idea (its extinct, not big). The only reason why I’m doing it is that I want to have a small entry and develop my learning curve, with something that doesn’t harm me, hopefully.
That being said, there will be no financial transactions. The most sensitive data is going to be emails of registered members on the site.
The only thing that I’m worried about is I want a professional website, a backup service if the website has glitches. The ability to expand the website with newer functions later. In short a proper experience for the few or many people who sign up. That is why I’m fretting a lil bit.

The website is (ok I’m embarrassed to admit this, but what the heck) a classified ads website. Like I said, no big shakes. The developer wants to develop in Joomla. Is that ok to use for this sort of site. Particularly if it grows big.

Yes, but everyone’s definition of ‘search engine friendly’ will vary. Many developers will class this as ‘I’ve used valid HTML, added some basic meta and title tags and made a site map - job done’.

Some clients may actually (for a common example) be expecting to receive a specific search engine positioning as a result of it. SEO is a very all encompassing term, and I’ve found many clients really do think their web developer is going to somehow magically propel their site to the top of the rankings within a few days of the site going live :slight_smile: I’m not saying that’s what you expect, but it’s important that you both define, in writing, exactly what SEO friendly means. Utlimately, there is only so much SEO a developer can do, and typically it’s about ‘setting up’ the site to be more friendly and perhaps having easy ways for the client (and any third parties they hire) to add specific SEO stuff like tags, keyword urls etc at a later date.

Thank you shadow. I understand that SEO is a separate function. I only expect my developer to setup the website in a manner so that SEO will and can be optimised later by the person engaged to do SEO.
So in order to get my meaning across what should I take care off with the developer to get across this point from your reply:
but it’s important that you both define, in writing, exactly what SEO friendly means.

PS: still can’t find a thread talking about contract from client perspective. We do need more non-techs like myself aboard :wink:

What did you mean by this, exactly? If your goal is to learn, you might be better off building it yourself than hiring it out!

I’m interested in learning the business part of the equation. I’m not a programmer and that is likely to be difficult for me to understand how to build a website. I am instead trying to learn how an internet business works, what do people want from the net, how do I manage a website etc.
I don’t know if I am right or wrong, but one thing I am not is a programmer.

You might just be better off buying a $200 start-up website from and using that to play around and make your mistakes. Probably cheaper than building from scratch.

Thank you Matt. This thread has given me a lot to think about in how I should approach things.
Let me see how I go.