A web development retainer agreement is a contract between a web developer and their client in which the client pays an upfront fee in exchange for ongoing services. A well-drafted agreement will ensure the signing parties understand their rights and obligations before web development services begin. The contract will document the work the developer will provide on retainer, their compensation, and the length of the agreement term.
Proper pricing is crucial for freelancers to ensure a healthy working relationship with their clients. Web developers account for their skill level, expenses, and competitor rates to help calculate their rates.
Web developers and clients should discuss job expectations upfront, including the number and type of tasks, and the timeframe to complete them. A detailed work description can help the web developer determine the appropriate rate. Some typical responsibilities a client may expect from the contractor are:
- SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Analytic tracking and reporting
- General website maintenance and improvements
- Conversion rate optimization (CRO) testing
- On-call emergency response
- 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 the hourly rate they would typically charge for the services, then multiply that by the number of hours they anticipate the job taking. The freelancer may want to reduce the total cost to give their client an advantageous flat rate as a benefit for keeping the freelancer on retainer.
A well-drafted retainer agreement will contain all the necessary terms and conditions to clarify the roles of the parties and avoid conflict. The agreement should contain the following elements:
- Party Information – The client’s name and mailing address and that of the person/entity providing the web development services.
- Services – The form should relay the work the web developer will be expected to perform for the client. This should be as specific as possible to avoid any misunderstandings.
- Retainer Fee – The amount the client agrees to pay the web developer in an upfront retainer fee and whether it is refundable should be detailed in the document.
- Payment Terms – The document should state when the contractor gets paid and whether they will be paid per hour, at a flat rate, by a percentage-based commission, or by some other method.
- Termination Notice – The document should state how many days’ notice either party must give before terminating the agreement in the case of a breach of contract terms.
Generally speaking, 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 – This contract is 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.