Helping customers find your business is easy if you have a small community and you're servicing only that community, but many businesses today want to compete in the global market. Having a website can help accomplish that goal. Often, even owners of small businesses want to have an online presence, so they can look more professional.
The problem with this plan is that many business owners assume they're finished with their websites after they get a website designer to create the site and the site is launched. The reality is that websites need maintenance and updating frequently. Website maintenance contracts exist for that purpose: They protect your business and your website maintenance provider so that both of you know the terms of your business arrangement.
Basic website maintenance
Deciding whether you, as the client, need website maintenance depends on your website and on the type of business you have. If the purpose of your website is for you to write your personal blog, then you probably don't need a website maintenance contract. If, on the other hand, you use e-commerce to sell goods and services on your website, it's a good idea to get either a short-term website maintenance contract or an annual maintenance contract.
Website maintenance can encompass all sorts of work by the maintenance provider, such as:
- Weekly, monthly, or annual maintenance of the website
- Testing the links to ensure they're working
- Checking, fixing, and updating plugins and videos
- Uploading content changes given to the maintenance provider by the client
- Checking and updating search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that search engines are picking up the website
- Looking for viruses on the site
- Making sure the site is secure, which is often an extra service
- Providing updates for images based on the client's needs
- Fixing website design issues and working on email if agreed upon
Website maintenance vs. website design
A website maintenance agreement details what you and your website maintenance provider have agreed to. There are website providers who will only perform maintenance tasks, while others will provide all types of work, such as updating the website design in addition to maintaining the site so it's in good working order.
Decide whether you want a provider who works on all types of issues or who only does limited website work. If you need major changes to the website, you're better off having your website designer make those changes first and then having the maintenance provider fix them. Most maintenance providers perform only minor changes to the website. Their function is to make sure the site itself is running well and gets updated, not to redo the design of the site.
Standard website maintenance contract
While each website maintenance contract is different, most maintenance contracts contain similar clauses. Contracts differ mostly because of the tasks the maintenance provider agrees to perform, how long the contract lasts, and how much the client pays for the services.
A standard website maintenance contract may contain:
- The names and contact information of the client and the maintenance provider
- Different service plans, such as monthly, weekly, or yearly terms and the cost for each type of plan
- What work the provider will and will not perform
- Who owns the intellectual property on the site
- Weekly, monthly, or yearly hours the provider will work on the site
- How much the client pays if work exceeds the allotted number of hours
- Additional charges not covered by the service plan
- Nondisclosure clauses
- How to terminate the contract, such as termination by either party upon 30 days' written notice
- Limitations of liability
- Duty of confidentiality by both parties
- A clause stating the maintenance provider is an independent contractor and not an employee
- A clause stating that the maintenance provider will be the only one providing maintenance on the site during the term of the contract
- A clause stating which state's laws govern if there are any disputes
- Signatures of an officer of each company
Website maintenance contracts are often several pages long, as there are so many items to cover. While your website maintenance provider may offer you their own standard service contract, you will want to review it, perhaps with an attorney, to be sure the website maintenance services you expect are the services you'll receive, and at the agreed-upon fees.
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