Website and app developer agreement: Top 5 points to cover

Website and app developer agreement: Top 5 points to cover

Hiring a web or app developer is quite important for startups. You are finally going to bring your idea to life. So you need to take extra care to ensure the people you entrust with bringing it to life for/with you are properly contracted to deliver what you want them to.

We hear many stories of never ending dev projects with doubled fees. We know you DO NOT want to find yourself in that situation – and a proper web developer agreement can help ensure you successfully avoid it, and here are the top 5 points to cover in a web or app development agreement.

1. Agree a comprehensive scope of work

Plan out what you need in advance. We recommend getting wireframes/designs done first and then passing them to a developer so it is less ambiguous what you need.

Try not to find yourself in a situation where the developer’s scope of work is complete, but you only have half the product because you didn’t think of half the necessary things when hiring the developer.

Planning ahead and knowing what you want is going to make both your life and  their life easier and will increase the success rate of your project. Otherwise you can end up continuing to add things, and fix things, and change things, and before you know it, your delivery date and budget are doubling. 

2. Ensure quality assurance (QA) and bug fixing is covered

Any developer agreement should cover: 

(a) QA testing – which effectively ensuring that whatever is built actually works before it is delivered, and 

(b) bug fixing – which is an agreement that the developer will fix bugs for an agreed period after delivery within the agreed price (e.g. 2 or 3 months).

3. Fixed project fees, rather than just hourly rates

Keeping fees under control for web development is important, otherwise you can end up continuing to add things, and fix things, and change things, and before you know it, your fees are doubled. Developers usually charge by the hour or day for the length time they spends on a project. 

It is perfectly feasible to agree a fixed or capped price for your project (as long as you are clear on what they are) based on a time estimate.

Fixed price contracts are those where the developer provides a set price to complete the agreed scope of work. Capped fee contracts are those where the agency agrees not to let it exceed a pre-agreed maximum.

Fixed fee or capped fee contracts encourage both parties to understand in more details the scope of the work and complete the project quicker (the developer will not get paid for the time over and above the original estimate). It also minimises the chance of cost escalation and low performance (e.g. bugs), and parties will be more likely to keep each other informed with respect to changes. 

By doing this, you will save time, money and a few headaches. 

Equally, you want to keep your developers happy and incentivised, so it is important that if you are adding elements to your scope, then the extra cost should be added to the original agreed price. You shouldn’t try and be sneaky and add parts in and assume they will fit within the fixed fee. 

Ultimately, be fair and reasonable, but keep control.

4. Payment conditional on delivery - not up front

It is always better to agree to pay once the product has been delivered. This will avoid future disputes in case the project is not delivered or ots outputs do not reflect the quality criteria promised.

You can also pay in instalments by, for example, splitting the scope of work up into different milestones. In this case, a small deposit is reasonable.

5. Ensure you own all the intellectual property rights

Most importantly, you need to ensure that once the product is built, you absolutely own it and all intellectual property rights in it without any ambiguity or uncertainty.

You need to ensure you have a strong intellectual property clause in your developer agreement.

Make sure that if third party plugins are being used, that the developer is completely clear with you on what they are – because the third party (and not you) owns the plugin and you are effectively just borrowing it. Third party plugins are ready made, so they are cheaper usually, but if the whole product is made from them, then your product is less valuable because you hold less intellectual property in it.

To create our Website and app developer agreement containing all the points explained above, please click here.

This article was written by Legal Sidekick. Legal Sidekick is the legal platform for startups. We offer automated contracts and loads of startup legal resources and guides. For queries on website and app developer agreement, please contact us at