A web development retainer agreement is a contract between a web developer and their client in which the client pays a recurring fee in exchange for regular work. A well-drafted agreement will ensure the signing parties understand their rights and obligations before web development services begin. The document may be used for both parties to agree on the number of hours or tasks the web developer will guarantee in a specified timeframe, how much they will receive in compensation, and what services they will provide their client.
Proper pricing is crucial for freelancers to ensure a happy working relationship with their clients where both parties benefit. There are several factors that a web developer must consider when pricing a retainer.
Web developers should speak to their clients about what is expected of them, including how many hours and the number of tasks they must commit to within a specified timeframe. A detailed scope of work will aid the web developer in finding the rate to charge the client. Some typical responsibilities a client may expect are:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Analytic tracking and reporting
- General website maintenance
- Bug fixes
- Updating websites
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO) testing
- Being reachable for emergencies
- Testing website functionality
- Fixing dead links and errors
When a web developer understands the size and complexity of their client’s needs, they can decide what they would typically charge hourly and multiply the expected hours for each task at that rate. The freelancer may then wish to discount that number to give their client an advantageous flat rate as a benefit for keeping the freelancer on retainer.
Additionally, web developers should account for their skill level, expenses, and competitor rates to help calculate their rate.
A properly formatted retainer agreement will contain terms and conditions that will give both signing parties a clear understanding of their right and responsibilities and help avoid potential conflict. The agreement should contain the following elements:
- Party Information – The client’s name and the person or business that will be taking care of the services should be included in the document.
- Services – The form should relay the work the web developer will be expected to do for the client. This should be as specific as possible to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Payment Terms – How much, at what rate, and at what frequency the client will pay the developer should be clearly stated in the agreement.
- Retainer Fee – If the client is to pay an upfront retainer fee and whether it is refundable should be detailed in the document.
- Termination Notice – The document should state how many days’ notice either party must give before terminating the agreement.
Generally, there are two (2) types of retainer agreements:
- Pay-for-Access – With this type of retainer agreement, the client will pay the web developer a flat fee, usually monthly, to access the developer’s expertise at any time on an ongoing basis.
- Pay-for-Work – Used when the web developer provides ongoing work for a fixed fee. Usually, the developer and their client will determine how many hours or tasks are expected each month and whether any unused hours will roll over to the following months.