Designer Contracts

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Designer Contracts

A Brief Introduction About Designer Contracts

Any designing a job involves a lot of work right from the stage of creating a plan of work that the client requires from the designer. The work goes through various stages of approval, correction, and rework. Hence it is essential to put down in paper about the range of service, deliverables expected by the client, and the time within which the project/job needs to be completed.

The designer contracts ensure such important aspects are covered in the agreement. The scope and deliverables vary with each type of designing project. It is not a “one size fits all” kind. A designing project being a creative field involves a lot of thinking and updates. A web development project means different types of clients. The perception and output of the designer and the client must meet together. A designer contract helps in developing concrete terms about the manner of assessment of work by the designer.

Who Takes Designer Contracts? – People Involved

  • The designer – He is a freelancer specializing in one or all the areas of designing. A freelancer can be an individual or a body corporate.
  • Client – He can be a business organization or an individual. He engages the designer to create and deliver specific designing work for his business or personal purposes.

Purpose of Designer Contracts – Why Do You Need It?

The very purpose of entering into the designer contracts is to ensure the designer and client agree with the standard terms of work and desired deliverables. It helps to resolve and avoid misunderstandings. The billable hours of the designer are kept under control as he continually refers to the scope of service mentioned in the contract. The interior and fashion designing contract involves the purchase of materials to perform the work.

The contract provides for an advance payment option to fund the initial cost of carrying out the work. It helps to break a big project into a measurable block, otherwise called as milestones. The way of assessing deliverables in such a manner can benefit both the client and the designer in terms of cost savings and time.

The designer can provide intellectual property rights in a manner that he considers appropriate. Also, the designer is given freedom of choice in a designer contract concerning the process of work, timelines, copyrights, and pricing. Good Designer Contracts accentuate its purpose by maintaining the relationship loyally and continuously. The turnaround times explained in the contract enables the designer to assess his work, and keep up the commitment. The client is also able to manage his schedules better.

Contents of Designer Contracts – Inclusions

Designer contracts shall have all the mandatory details as listed below

  • Name and address of the designer and the client. It is imperative to state the business type (individual, firm, or company) of both, as this will have an impact on the taxation part.
  • Duration of the agreement – Normally it is short term, and it matches with the expected delivery of final output by the designer. It must be clearly defined.
  • A detailed scope and description of work – Here comes the critical part of the contract. The scope of work offered by the client, the intricate detailing of inputs and efforts required to perform the work, the stages of deliverables, reworks, alterations, and modifications that can be reasonably performed, etc.
  • Timeline for deliverables – The project may be enrolled ahead of important business expansion. Hence it is vital to stick to deadlines. The timeline should match with client expectations.
  • Payment – Pricing methods may vary with the designer and type of work performed. However, the terms of payment must be clearly defined. The percentage of advance payment, the amount, and time within which the final payment will be made need to be explained in detail.
  • Intellectual property – The ownership of creation and the designs lies with the designer until the final output is approved and accepted by the client. The designer can also part with his intellectual property, otherwise known as copyright, in a beneficial manner. For example, the rights can be given only for the usage of output without modification.
  • Termination – The termination clause can provide for closure of the contract at a mutually convenient time. The contract cannot be attributed to a specific period of completion. Hence the designer must take care in drafting the termination clause in a way that he is paid appropriately for whatever work he has completed and rendered to the client.

How to Draft Designer Contracts?

  • All the contracts are not the same. A web designer contract will be entirely different from that of the interior designer agreement. Due care must be given in explaining the scope of services and terms of payment as per the type of contract.
  • The designer ought to prepare a checklist of his understanding of the work and match it with the expectations of the client. Once things are in place, it becomes easy to draft the contract. It gives a sense of professionalism about the designer.
  • The designer must also consider the number of revisions he can make for all the drafts he shares with the client. The revisions that can be done free of cost and those which require additional money need to be explained well to avoid disputes in the future.
  • The designer to attain the benefits of his intellectual property can consider including clauses that allow his work to be used for the promotion of his own business. In other words, the client still owns the output with certain conditions.
  • Non-disclosure is an important factor to consider while drafting the contract. Both the designer and the client may come across confidential and sensitive information about each other during work. The non-disclosure clause shall state the manner of usage and presentation of such information in work.

Negotiation Strategy

The designer can adopt pricing as a per-project basis and hourly basis. In case of projects that take the considerable time say a fortnight or month and continuous contracts, it is beneficial for the designer to agree to price as per the amount of work and deliverables involved. Hourly basis of pricing works best for short term, graphic designing, and web designing projects. The designer can negotiate the pricing that works best as per the type of contract.

[ Also Read: Freelance Graphic Design Contract]

Benefits & Drawbacks of Designer Contracts

The Benefits of Preparing Designer Contracts Are Is Follows:

  • Definition of responsibility – The designer and the client understand the scope of work and responsibility of each other to provide proper support to achieve the desired output. The parties to the agreement act within the specified terms of reference, which removes complexity.
  • Guaranteed income – The designer is assured of a larger pie of project income. The terms of payment in a contract mostly involve a certain percentage as advance and specific percentages in the proportion of completion.
  • Termination – Both parties can terminate the agreement at their will but by giving proper notice to each other. They are not under compulsion to continue the contract if the relationship has turned sour.

Following Are the Demerits of the Designer Contracts:

  • The designers are not employees of the client. Hence, they are not bound by the control policies of the client.
  • The client may prematurely terminate or move on with another designer if their expectations are not met. This puts the designer at a severe loss of time and resources.
  • It is tough to define every detail of work as the contract involves a lot of planning, sketching, creating models, reworking or changing, and combine the elements to bring the final output.

What Happens in Case of Violation?

The violation of the agreement normally happens with the scope of service, breach of intellectual property, and disclosure of information.

  • The client may require the designer to work beyond or more than what is already agreed in the designer contracts.
  • The client may ask a large number of changes that impact the basics of the work done.
  • The designer does not deliver what is promised.
  • The client fails or denies making full payment or part of the payment for the work completed.
  • The client or the designer discloses the confidential information that severely hampers the business.
  • The client parts away with the intellectual property of the designer and uses it against the benefit of the designer.

In all cases of violation, the contract will be terminated, and the designer may not be paid. The party facing serious injuries on revealing sensitive information and infringement of intellectual property rights shall face the other in the court of law. However, violation of contract clauses(1) can be prevented by holding a discussion and resolving the conflicts in a professional manner. The client may require some more changes that will deliver the required output. The designer can work in the best interest of himself and the client. If the work has almost come to an end, few compromises can benefit the parties to the contract.

A well-drafted designer agreement promulgates professionalism and a sense of hope and clarity. The client is explained by the process of achieving his desired output from beginning to end. He feels happy that he pays for what he gets. Also, the timelines of the business are duly considered.

The client can sit back and relax for the final file as the work is approved at every significant stage of progress. The designer who is a freelancer gets independence in performing the work as his work is free from geographical restrictions and constant supervision.

The contract is intricate in detail concerning the level of work performed than any other contract. Hence it is essential to pay attention to the ideas and visualization of the client. With more designer agreement samples, drafting another contract becomes so easy, and the designer can concentrate better on his core business.