Design / Web Design

Legal Aspect of Website Design

Kim is back to give you more tips for hiring a website designer or any freelancer in the creative field. Thank you all for the amazing reviews about our Ask An Expert series. I will be interviewing more experts in other fields for this series. If you have a field or industry you want me to contact for this series please leave a comment below.
Should I supply the website designer an independent contract? It depends. If you’re a business and you want certain rights to the project then this should be discussed with the designer and an attorney. Most designers have their own contracts and essentially this would be considered a work made for hire contract where they are working for your business as an independent contractor and any designs rendered as a result would be owned the business. There are grey areas for this and this type of request opens all types of cans of worms; this is something that should definitely be discussed with an IP Attorney and the designer you hire.

Should there be a non disclosures form signed? If necessary, but most of this should be listed in the designer’s contract; If it is not then get it in writing.

What if I only need a la carte for my site, should I hire a freelancer or find a designer? A freelancer and a designer can be one in the same, so yes. This is a cost effective way to get things done as your budget allows instead of dropping a large amount of money on a design package. This also gives you an opportunity to test out a new designer you’re interested in working with. Have them design a business card which is a small investment, then if you like working with them, move on to larger projects. I would always recommend using the same designer for all of your projects if possible (assuming you’ve had a pleasant experience with them).

Who will own the site design when it’s done?
Again, this all depends on the terms and conditions of your project (the contract). There is no real simple answer for this because it gets rather complicated. I am not a lawyer, so I cannot offer you any legal advice. I personally assign the rights to my clients for the finished website files (not source files however these can be included for an additional fee) but I ask that I place the design in my portfolio as this is the only way I am able to secure future projects. So if you’re looking for all the rights to everything, consult and attorney or negotiate with your designer to include this in the contract.

Should I set up my own hosting or allow my designer to do so? You should set up your own hosting since it’s fairly simple. Ask your designer what hosting company they recommend. If you need your designer’s assistance they should be able to assist, but they might charge an additional fee to set it up. Some designers offer hosting as part of their design packages. Discuss this with your designer. You can purchase hosting from GoDaddy!

How can I make sure I have total ownership of my site?
Discuss this with your designer and get it in writing. Most contracts allow you full ownership of the final site files, however you may not own the source files (unless this is included in the contract). Look at it like this. If you had a house built from scratch, the architect does not give you the blueprints or if you hire a photographer to take images of you, you don’t get the negatives, you get the end result. There are copyright laws that protect artists and businesses, so it would be best to discuss this with an IP attorney. This should be discussed upfront BEFORE the project starts.
Later this week I will post the rest of the interview with Kim for Ask An Expert Series. Thanks for reading and I hope these questions help you in the process of building your dream site for your business or brand.

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