Nothing is more aggravating than a client who doesn’t pay their bills. Web designers experience this problem frequently, but most don’t realize the problem can be avoided by inserting certain language in the contract with the client.
Web Design Milestones
Milestones represent the completion of certain stages of the project. As the project reaches each milestone date, a certain amount of work must be presented by you to the client. The client then has a specific amount of time, such as five days, to approve the work or request changes. If the client approves the work, they must then pay a set amount of the total overall fee.
There are three advantages to milestones. The first is the ongoing payments help maintain your cash flow throughout the project. There is no need to wait for the client to get around to making one large payment after the design is delivered. Second, milestones tend to keep the project moving consistently forward for both you and the client. Finally, the constant interaction between the two parties minimizes the chance of the client changing their mind on some major design issue late in the project.
Milestones are very useful. Use them. Protect yourself.
Copyright Assignment Language
Copyright law is odd for a number of reasons. One of these reasons is copyright automatically vests in the person creating the “work.” Various aspects of a website are considered works for the purpose of copyright law. Practically speaking, this means that the designer of a website automatically owns the copyright to much of the site.
This fact can be used to leverage payment from your clients.
As you well know, various aspects of websites are stolen all the time. Whether we are talking about a specific act of malice or just someone sending out a bot to scrape HTML code, infringement is a huge issue faced by online businesses. To protect their rights, your clients can make claims of copyright infringement against the offending parties. To do this, however, your clients must own the copyright to their web design. This effort to protect the design obviously can’t happen if you, the designer, own it.
A properly worded web design contract should contain a clause indicating copyright to the final design will only occur upon final payment being made by the client. In this day and age, most clients are aware they need to obtain the copyright from their designers, so the inclusion of such language acts as an excellent motivator and should serve to get you paid. If the client still does not pay you, then file takedown notices with the DMCA agent of their host.
If you are having problems getting paid for your web design work, you have nobody to blame but yourself. A properly written contract should eliminate the vast majority of payment problems. Contact me to learn more about obtaining a properly constructed web design contact or to have your current agreement reviewed.
Richard A. Chapo, Esq.