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Originally Posted On: Top tips for contracting Web Developers – Progressive Legal

If you’re engaging a new web developer, be prepared to throw everything away and start again

For the majority of us, we’ll need to engage the services of a web developer at one stage of another. Progressive Legal offers up some top tips to make sure it doesn’t all go horribly wrong!

Tip 1 – Make sure you know what you actually ‘own’

Most web developers will insist on holding code and web development sites until completion of the work in full.

Essentially, this holds you over a barrel until you have paid all of the amounts of money due under the contract.

The danger can be that you may never find out what work was actually done unless you pay the entire contract in full, at which point they may or may not release all the source code or any of the other intellectual property.

You don’t own it at all – they do, until you pay them in full. Essentially, you pay first – then you find out whether or not they’ve done the work.

Tip 2 – Be prepared to have to start all over again

If you’re engaging a web developer to either refresh your entire site or even just to fix up or finish what another developer may have started, don’t be surprised if they basically scrunch it up and throw it in the bin because the code was written so poorly or there’s so much that needs to be done to clean it all up.

It would take more time and cost more than to do it from scratch. Most new developers that take over won’t even agree to work with someone else’s code as they don’t want to be blamed for some part of the work that they didn’t have any involvement with in the first place, which is, in a way – understandable.

Tip 3 – Beware of being asked to sign deeds of release

In some cases, especially when there is a dispute between the parties, some web developers even try and make small business owners sign a deed of release before they hand over the source code to stop them from being sued for wrongdoing.

Of course, you would then be prevented from “comebacks” later if you were to find out that there were issues with the code after you sign the agreement.

They hold you over a barrel even when they’ve fleeced you of all your money and then try to get you to execute an agreement that upon payment of final invoice, they will release code and hand over all intellectual property only on condition of a full release being signed – even where it wasn’t mentioned in the contract. It’s simply amazing.

Tip 4 – Be careful of progress payments

A lot of web developers want progress payments which is understandable so that they are paid for when stages of work are completed and will usually ask for payments to be made upfront to get going.

If you can see if you can negotiate that first payment to be made after the first stage of work is completed so you can see what has been done and have some leverage if you are not liking the engagement. If you find out that they are impossible to work with right at the outset or after a short time, you can basically kiss that initial progress payment goodbye.

It’s common knowledge now that if developers usually get a large whack of cash or a few progress payments without delivering much, the quality and impetus to get the work done in a timely fashion becomes less and less. Keep it on a really tight leash so to speak. Be clear on deliverables and time frames.

If possible, leave a final progress payment for after the project is completed and delivered and handed over so that there is an obligation on them to deliver what they promised and you test and give final approval to the work being done before making that final payment.

Gives them that little bit of incentive to do a good job, do it on time and deliver before getting final payment. Make it 14 days after delivery of all the work so that you get a chance to view it and iron out all the details.

Tip 5 – Completion Date

It is notoriously hard to keep any builder to a completion date and they deliver on or before time. The same goes for web developers. It’s almost like you need someone to project manage most of them because they can’t keep to a schedule and it seems they view these time frames as flexible.

The problem is that if things drag out, it will usually end up costing you more money, time and frustration. See if you can make a time of the essence in the contract so that the delivery date is viewed as a final date for delivery of the work and not the rough estimate.

Make it essentially a guillotine date where if they don’t deliver by that date, then you have recourse to terminate the contract and sue them for damages, loss of profits, monies under the contract, etc. Make sure this is spelt out clearly in black and white so that there is no ambiguity.


Contact us today if you require any assistance with preparing or reviewing your Non Disclosure Agreement.