What Should Be In A Web Site Development / Hosting Agreement?


This post is part of a series of posts entitled A Legal Guide to the Internet. For a comprehensive list of articles contained in this series, click here

An interesting and inviting web site can serve as a powerful marketing tool. The design and implementation of a web site usually requires the services of an outside contractor experienced in web site development. It is essential to have an agreement that clearly addresses a variety of issues both to the web site developer and the business. Sound contracting principles should be followed in the preparation of any such agreement so both parties clearly understand the obligations and allocation of responsibilities. Some of the issues that should be considered when pursuing such an arrangement and preparing the appropriate agreement are as follows:

  • What is the purpose of the web site?
  • Will the business, the developer, or a third party serve as host of the site?
  • Will goods, services, or information be sold on-line?
  • How much will it cost to develop and maintain the site?
  • What are the actual and projected fees for the development and ongoing support and maintenance of the site?
  • Has the business considered a number of different web site developers and hosts?
  • What special programs or features are important to the business? What programming languages will be used to develop and implement the site (HTML, VRML, Java, Pearl, C++, Visual Basic, ASP, Flash, etc.)
  • What if a new provider of web site hosting or related services is to be hired by the business? Can the web site be easily transported to another host? Can the business or other service provider easily continue to maintain or support the site?
  • Who is responsible for obtaining rights to any third party materials and other content used in the site?
  • Who retains intellectual property rights associated with the web site including any patents, copyrights, or trademarks?
  • What limitations of liability, indemnification, and termination provisions are included?
  • What remedies are available for failed performance? Are there reasonable warranties and representations?
  • Is training included?
  • Who is responsible for obtaining the domain name?
  • Who is responsible for listing the web site with various search engines? Is the responsibility a one-time occurrence or continuous?
  • Is the web site compatible with all appropriate web browsers?
  • What is expected from the site and from the developer who is constructing the site?
  • What is the expected up time and response time?
  • Are e-mail, file transfer protocol, e-commerce, statistics or other capabilities included?
This and the following posts have been copied or adopted from A Legal Guide To The INTERNET – Sixth Edition, published through a collaborative effort by the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development and Merchant & Gould.