Best Terms and Conditions Checklist for Website Designers

Terms and Conditions Template

Starting work for a lucrative new web project can be an exciting time – until you realize that your terms and conditions have let you down. Without defining in great detail what is – and is not – included in your work arrangements with new clients, you’re risking longer hours and out of pocket expenses that will lessen the income earned from the work you provide.

This very thing happened to my friend Lisa, a web designer from California. When she started her business, Lisa forgot to stipulate that each web project included no more than 3 revisions and when she landed her first client, she worked an extra 8 hours on the site because the client asked for revisions constantly and she felt like she couldn’t say no.

That set Lisa’s income back considerably because since she charged a flat fee for the project, she couldn’t use those 8 lost hours toward another paying project. After that experience, Lisa applied her hard lesson and spent a great deal of time crafting a thorough set of terms that has helped her manage demanding clients.

In the case you’re missing something important from your terms and conditions like Lisa – or haven’t crafted any terms at all – here is a list of items to include:

Ownership of work

  • You may want to include terms around ownership of the work you produce to ensure it’s crystal clear for your clients. For example, you could allow ownership of the website design and graphics to a client, but retain ownership of the coding work that went into the site.

Additional services

  • You’ve likely sent your client a proposal that details what is included in the project you’re delivering to them. However you may want to outline additional services or fees and costs associated with each so they aren’t running you ragged, like Lisa’s first client. Examples could be multiple revisions, specialized graphics or additional website features such as a shopping cart.

Delivery conditions

  • You’ve likely told your client how long you estimate the project will take you – but you might want to be mindful about including delivery conditions to protect you from penalties in case the project runs late.


  • It’s unlikely you share the details about your clients with third parties, but still consider stating that, along with any other privacy terms, to make your clients feel secure working with your company.


  • Some providers will include standard equipment, but charge extra for anything beyond that. For example, if you need to rent a specialized computer for someone with high definition design needs, you would let them know in your equipment terms.

Travel time and expenses

  • Some providers will include minimal travel time and expenses in their rates. For example, a 20-minute car ride might be included, but a 2-hour trek is additional. If train, bus, taxi, limo or airtravel is required, you may want to put restrictions on what type or level of travel is acceptable, e.g., direct flights only, business class (good luck!).


  • If you are going to be designing for a company in-house and meals are provided, you may want to stipulate any dietary restrictions here so you won’t starve if you have food allergies.


  • Generally, you’ll charge this to your client as an expense. But you may want to stipulate the type of accommodation so you don’t end up at a fleabag motel.


  • Ensure you have great payment terms so that clients understand how soon they need to pay you, and any penalties that apply should they take their sweet ol’ time.

Other Fees

  • If fees, such as location fees, rental fees and/or permits are required, who is paying for them?

Being mindful to craft a strong list of terms and conditions for each new web project you begin will ensure the money your clients pay you goes toward the value of the service you provide, and not anything extra.

More great ideas to grow your business

Find out what you need to know about contracts when hiring freelancers.

Are you partnering with a friend? Why you still need things in writing.

Learn whether you need an NDA when hiring contractors

FreshBooks tip

Find out how to set up a contractor in your FreshBooks account.



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  • Kay Murray

    For my “basic” sites, I’ve moved to a 2 proofs system. You get 2 chances to make changes to the color scheme, and 2 more chances after that to make any other changes, otherwise it’s my client only discounted __ per hour. I explain to them that, in order to keep my prices reasonable, lists are most efficient and avoid a ton of confusion.
    Doing this one little thing has really saved my sanity!

    I’ve also been sticking with my guns to the workflow. This means that clients will first approve the color scheme with dummy content, and that at the content-adding phase, they need to have their content web-ready for me (saying “no” to transposing from hand written notes, like I ended up doing one time).

    The business end of dealing with clients is definitely more challenging than creating stuff!

    • BLU42 Media

      Keeping one’s sanity is quite important – and not setting good terms with clients can certainly drive you nuts! We just reworked our contracts at the start of the year and it’s been a much improved experience!

    • MidnightSensi

      Absolutely. I tell clients content must come first, and that it drives aspects of the design and determines the information architecture. When explained, most completely understand. Occasionally people don’t, in which case I either give them a little helper push (ask them questions that lead to what content might be for their business), or if they really don’t get it – we’re not the right fit. :) Then I recommend them someone else that is comfortable working that way.

  • Marc LeBlanc

    Useful post! It would be nice to see what a mocked uped TOS looks like based on these tips. Also a post on Privacy Policy tips would be nice as well – privacy seems to be very murky these days.

  • Shauna McGee Kinney

    We are talking at the new web and online agency where I am working about moving

    – from deposit + percent-complete + project-complete payment terms

    – to monthly payments until the project is paid in full.

    Clients are resisting delivering their own content and don’t want to pay us to develop their text + images. We’re finding that we have projects going 18 months and nothing in our terms to leverage the project along. We still have our staff (employees) available to complete the project, so our costs don’t go down when the client stalls.