Industry focus – Web designers

The internet is a wonderful thing. Discuss.

Close up image of a spider on a web Well it’s big, certainly. Beautiful too? That probably depends on your point of view…

What’s not in doubt is that it’s quickly become the first, and in many cases, only port of call for people looking for information and/or entertainment.
The way we use the internet is defined by websites: how they look, how they feel, how they work and what they contain. And if the internet is defined by websites, the websites are defined by you, the designers.

Risky business

Here’s the rub: being at the sharp end of new technologies and making your mark in design carries kudos but the consequences of an error can be swift and severe.
Your web wizardry is, definitively, in the public domain and out there for all to see. That’s great if it’s, well, great, but it means there’s no hiding place if it’s not.
So, universal accessibility is both your friend and your enemy. If you’re opening your work up to the great unknown, it’s worth carrying out some basic risk assessment with every contract. If that sounds a bit onerous, don’t worry – it needn’t be.

Shields up!

With each engagement, start by asking yourself ‘if I do something wrong, what’s the worst case scenario for my client. And what can I do about it?’.

Breaking the contract down will help too, so consider :

• Who is the website for? What sort of business is my client in? How big a player is my client?
• Am I using content from third parties in the website (like images, music, video)? If I am, do I have a written licence from the media owners?
• Am I designing an e-commerce process as part of the site? Can I use a third party payment module (like PayPal)?
• If I’m using a subcontractor to help me, do they have errors and omissions insurance?
• What sign off procedure, if any, is in place?

If you already have an errors and omissions insurance policy in place, make sure it covers claims against you for things like copyright infringement and unintentional breach of contract. In our experience, these are two of the most common kinds of claims against web designers.

‘An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’ as the saying goes.

Giving some time now to thinking about the potential risks you face could mean a huge saving later.

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