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Contracts are the bedrock of any business.
No matter what business you have, if you’re selling goods or services, you’ll need a contract to serve as a record of commitment for you and your clients.
A contract can come in handy, especially if you’re in a highly subjective business that’s also open to interpretation, like graphic design. In this case, a graphic design contract can provide legal protection should things go south.
However, drafting a graphic design contract isn’t as simple as it sounds.
The entire process of creating an enforceable contract may require specific key terms, legal obligations, provisions, and even client agreement. Worst of all, a single mistake in drafting the contract could mean the end of your business.
And with your business in the line, it’s critical to create a contract that is devoid of mistakes. Luckily, we’re here to help. In this post, you’ll learn the four common mistakes to avoid when crafting a graphic design contract.
1. Vague Description of the Project Scope
When drafting a graphic design contract, it’s imperative to be specific and detailed.
For example, “independent contractor will perform design services” for clients leaves too much room for misinterpretation on the scope of the project. Rather than using a general statement, go into detail to explain the scope of the work and specifics of the tasks.
If you’re not specific about the scope of your work, you may find yourself dealing with “scope creep” as the client continues to add extra tasks and revisions. Eventually, you’ll end up working countless hours for free. All these problems can be avoided by using a design contract that is detailed and meticulously crafted.
2. Not Including Client’s Responsibilities
More often than not, freelance designers make the mistake of forgetting to include the client’s responsibilities in the freelance contract.
However, forgetting to include the client’s responsibilities can present a lot of problems down the road. Outline everything the client will deliver to you to complete the project. Items to be provided should include:
- Creative project brief
- Point of contact
- Approval process
You can provide a template that includes all the details of the project you need to know upfront. Without well-defined client responsibilities, you might not even know who to contact or what the client expects of you—a recipe for disagreements down the road.
3. Not Using Milestones
A milestone is a marker in a project that signifies a change or stage in project development. Milestones are important in project development because they:
- Help to monitor deadlines
- Ensure timely payments—designers are usually paid based on milestone completion
- Help to identify potential bottlenecks
- Help to manage time and resource allocation
- Reflect your professionalism
By breaking up your contract into measurable chunks, you’re making it easier for you and the client to track progress and see the project visibility.
However, some designers make the mistake of not including project milestones in their contracts. Without milestones, you may not have the payment protection you deserve.
For example, most designers request payment after the completion of specified milestones. Without milestones, you won’t have the basis to request payment. Also, the incorporation of milestones in a contract minimizes micromanagement and guessing games.
4. Not Including the Termination Clause
It’s critical to include a termination clause in your contract because things will not always go as planned. Should you or the client decide to terminate the contract for any reason, the termination clause will dictate the termination consequences.
The termination clause provides an escape route for you should things go south.
With a clause that specifies termination fees and possible litigations, you can safeguard against sudden disruption to your workflow and income. That said, it’s important to discuss the termination clause with the client before the start of the project.
Contacts play a vital role in building relationships and enhancing operational efficiency. By avoiding these contract design mistakes, you’ll be able to build fruitful business relationships and minimize disagreements and conflicts down the road.