Website design and development contract: developer's version

This is a comprehensive agreement for the design and development of a complex website or web application. It favours the developer over the client on matters where stronger legal protection might be advantageous.
Suitable for use in: England & Wales and Scotland
  • Solicitor approved
  • Plain English makes editing easy
  • Guidance notes included
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About this document

IT projects are notorious for overrunning. There may be misunderstandings as to the scope of the project (such as exactly what is being done and where work stops), or failings by the client to review the progress of the project or to provide content by a certain time. The client may decide to make seemingly small changes on a regular basis that are time consuming for the developer to implement.

A developer is likely to take into account that these things happen. An inexperienced client may not. Minor problems on small projects are unlikely to be problems. On larger projects, they can cost both sides much more.

This contract has been written to protect the developer from problems that arise during a project that are outside his control, but which impact on delivery. It provides the legal, contractual terms for an agreement, and a framework for the project that makes it clear exactly what obligations each party has. It reduces the risk of misunderstandings and possible disputes that arise so commonly in this area of work.

This document is suitable for medium sized and large projects, where the scope most likely includes a number of stages, such as design, implementation and extensive testing and revision, and therefore where risks are higher. You are likely to be developing a site with unique functionality or a web-based application.

We have a simpler agreement if the project is small, such as the customisation of a popular CMS, or the addition of a third-party coded feature to a website.

The agreement includes an example specification of work, but note that this is not in technical terms. Since each project is different, we cannot provide a specification to fit every one. Technical details should be entered into the specification by you.


This is a comprehensive document because it covers the many risks to a project. It provides for a deal where:

  • It is the client’s responsibility to approve a detailed specification of work covering all elements. Of course, you may help produce this. The specification is a precise instruction to you and a record of the work for your client.

  • Changes to the specification are regulated – there is a process that must be followed by the client in order to prevent scope creep. Additional work is on an agreed basis.

  • The client approves the work in stages.

There are also provisions relating to:

  • Testing and acceptance
  • How and when the client will pay you
  • Clear and strong identification and protection of your intellectual property (such as your own code you wish to reuse on other projects)
  • Exclusions and indemnities

This document was written by a solicitor for Net Lawman. It complies with current English law.

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