After spending weeks searching for a contract that was simple for me and my clients to understand, in 2008 I wrote my own and published it on 24ways for anyone to use. Now it’s time for an update.
Since publishing Contract Killer I have revised the wording a few times, most recently with an updated clause about browsers and testing.
The killer contract I published in 2009 had this to say about Internet Explorer 6.
We will test all our markup and CSS in current versions of all major browsers including those made by Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla and Opera. We will also test to ensure that pages will display visually in a ‘similar’, albeit not necessarily an identical way, in Microsoft Internet Explorer 6 for Windows as this browser is now past it’s sell-by date.
My clients might be different to yours, but throughout the time that clause has been in my contract, not once has a client questioned that a site I design for them will likely look different in Internet Explorer 6 than in other browsers. Never once has someone called, during or after a project to bring up the issue of old or less capable browsers.
Since Contract Killer was published, the browser landscape has changed again, this time more dramatically with the release of more iPhone OS devices, Android and soon Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 9 for the desktop. It had also become clear that Internet Explorer 6 was becoming generally less of an issue and I needed to expand the browser support clause to take into account what had changed.
The clause now reads.
If the project includes HTML markup and CSS templates, we will develop these using HTML5 and CSS2.1 and CSS3 for styling. The landscape of web browsers and devices changes regularly and our approach is to look forward, not back. With that in mind we will test all our markup and CSS in current versions of all major desktop browsers to ensure that we make the most from them. Users of older or less capable browsers or devices will experience a design that is appropriate to the capabilities of their software. For people using Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, this means a universal, typographically focussed design but no layout. We will also test that these templates perform well on Apple’s iPad.
I know of plenty of designers and developers who are fearful that clearly stating their designs will not look exactly the same in every browser will potentially lose them work to a competitor who is either less willing to challenge a client’s preconceptions or less open about their process. I have experienced precisely the opposite and have found that stressing the positive benefits of a forward looking approach from the earliest moments of a relationship prevents uncomfortable discussions and shows that we are in touch with the realities of the web and can help a client’s business benefit from it.
Here’s the full contract. It’s published under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-a-like license. That means you’re free to re-distribute, translate and otherwise re-use it as long as you mention my name and link back to this article. I’m a designer not a lawyer so you should also have it examined thoroughly by your own, legal people if you intend to use it.