This guide is based on UK law. It was last updated in February 2008.

This guide is based on UK law. It was last updated in February 2008.

Structure of site

  • Have you ascertained the notices and disclaimers that you need to include?  
  • Have you incorporated your terms and conditions? (See our guide, On-line Contract Formation)
  • Have you protected the intellectual property of your company?
  • Have you obtained all necessary third party licences and consents? (e.g. copyright, links, trade marks, etc.)
  • Have you included information about your company? (full company name, company registration number if you are a limited company, VAT number if relevant, postal address, email address, etc.)
  • Is this information clearly displayed to your potential customer? (See our articles on Dealing with Consumers, The UK's E-Commerce Regulations)
  • Your site should aim to be standards-compliant and accessible to all users. See OUT-LAW's guide, Disabled access to web sites under UK law and also PAS 78, a guide to commissioning an accessible site.


  • Have you set out the functionality that you require for your web site in a written specification? (In practice this may take the form of a detailed brief to your web site developer)
  • Do you have any preferences as to the look and feel of the site? (e.g. magazine style, catalogue style, specific graphics etc.)
  • Do you want to add additional features in the future? You may have plans to develop your site in stages. In any event, as the internet and its capabilities are continually developing, you will need to be able to update your site and add new features in order to remain competitive. The design of your site should allow for this flexibility.
  • How do you intend to update the content on the site? Is this something that you will require the web developer to do on your behalf? If you want to update the site yourself, do you have the necessary tools and access to the site? If you intend to have the developer update your site, how much will this cost and how long will it take to implement any changes?
  • Do you want to restrict access to certain areas on your site?
  • Do you intend to use cookies? If so, you will need to offer the function of disabling the cookies at the visitor's request or, alternatively, include a description how to control and disable them. (See our website
  • What information do you want to collect about visitors to your site? Is it lawful? Do you need to obtain consent of the data subjects? (see our guide on Data Protection)  How do you intend to ensure security of data before visitors give any details? Do you intend to move them to a secure server or provide other type of security?
  • Have you specified a means for correcting errors that visitors may make on the page when providing details?
  • Will you own the copyright in the site? If not, will you be granted a licence to use and amend the site? (See our guide on Branding and Intellectual Property)
  • Who will host the site? Do you want access to server logs, availability reports and access statistics? How will this data be collected, stored and presented?
  • Will you be advertising or selling your goods or services?
  • Have you ascertained what technical steps you require to conclude contracts on-line? (See our guide, Online Contract Formation)
  • Have you considered estimated user volumes – will your website's supporting infrastructure be able to cope with the expected number of users?

Systems integration

  • Have you clearly identified your business and technical requirements?
  • Have you got an agreement in place with your web developer?

Choosing the designer / developer

  • Ask to see previous work. Seek references from those clients. 
  • Ask the proposed designer / developer about PAS 78. If he has never heard of it, you may want to reconsider your choice.

Web design / development agreement

  • Have you produced a clear specification for your web site? (This may take the form of a detailed brief to the designer)
  • Do you want to own all of the intellectual property rights in your site? It is likely that the web designer will not want to assign copyright in the site as the underlying code may be used for other sites. If this is the case, you will need to ensure that you have a 'perpetual' licence to use, copy and amend the web site. You may also wish to restrict the web developer from using any of the copyright or ideas contained within your site to design a competitive site.
  • Have you agreed a timetable for the delivery of the finished design? In practice you will want to include various milestones such as outline architecture, initial design work (e.g. look and feel), final version and going live. As the web is fast moving, it is essential that you tie the developer down to an agreed timetable and ensure that he sticks to it. Someone else may have the same idea and be developing a similar site. In this respect it is useful to tie in payment to the milestones.
  • Have you included suitable tests against which each of the deliverables have to pass before you accept the deliverable?
  • Have you included a clause to protect your copyright and other intellectual property rights in any materials that you have supplied to the web designer? In particular, have you protected the use of your trade name?
  • Have you agreed a fixed fee or are you paying on a time and materials basis? If the latter, have you agreed the hourly rates and placed a cap on the developer's fees?
  • Have you included payment terms? Are these linked to achieving certain milestones?
  • Have you obtained warranties from the designer that:
  • he has the necessary skill and expertise and that he will provide his services with all due skill and care?
  • he owns the intellectual property in the underlying code and the design of the web site or that he has the authority to use such intellectual property and licence others to do so?
  • that the design including all underlying code will be his own work and will not be copied?
  • that, where the designer is also providing material for use on the site (e.g. designs, characters, photographs, maps etc.) that he has obtained all necessary consents and licences or that he owns the intellectual property in such material?
  • Have you included a confidentiality clause?
  • Are there any limits on the designer's liability under the agreement? If so, are they reasonable in the context of the potential risks?
  • Are you able to assign your rights in the web site to third parties?
  • Do you have any right to terminate the agreement? If so, in what circumstances and what are the consequences of termination? (e.g. will you have any rights in the part developed site?)
  • Will the web designer also be hosting the site? If so, consider the items which need to be included in a web hosting agreement. See our guide on Web Development Deals


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