Compliance considerations for web agencies when onboarding new clients


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Hans Skillrud

Vice President of Termageddon

Considerations when onboarding new clients

For web designers, finding clients is one thing. Finding clients worth taking on is a whole different story.

A potential client could have been in legal trouble in the past, committed fraud, not paid on time, or been difficult to work with in the past – all reasons it may be better to avoid them and save your time, money, and plenty of headaches.

While we’ve already done a blog on how agencies can protect themselves when building websites for clients, sometimes simply taking on certain clients (without taking certain precautions) can be risky as well.

So, what are those precautions? Glad you asked! Let’s get into it.

Precaution #1: Client Due Diligence

You should probably stalk a client before doing business with them… did we mention this blog is not legal advice? It’s not legal advice.

By stalking, we don’t mean calling them “Baby Reindeer” and finding out what book club their mother is attending. Don’t do that.

What is a good idea, however, is to ‘Google’ any potential client to see if there’s anything suspicious about them. Maybe they’ve been sued for fraud? Maybe other web designers have had negative experiences working with them and might warn others in communities like The Admin Bar.

It’s important to do a quick search before agreeing to move forward with new clients.

Precaution #2: Sign a contract

I know it’s tempting to just “Shake on it,” but it’s pretty easy for a client many miles away to avoid running into a web designer that they’ve mistreated in the past. It’s also hard to hold them accountable if you just agreed upon vague details over a call or email.

Make sure everyone is on the same page by writing out things like:

  • Responsibilities
  • Obligations
  • Payment amount
  • Payment due dates
  • Deliverables (with due date estimates)
  • Due dates for things the client is responsible for (Policies, website copy, About Us photos, etc.)

Having all this written out and signed by the client may take a little extra time at the beginning, but will protect your agency during and after the process. 

Precaution #3: Statement of Work

Draft a Statement of Work (SoW) to provide the client. An SoW lists out all the pages and features a website will have so that everyone is on the same page from the start. There are several free SoW templates you can download. If you’d like to draft your own, make sure to include things like: 

  • Goals and general overview of the project; 
  • Number of pages on the website the purpose(s) of each page; 
  • Functionality; 
  • What the client needs to provide to you and when; 
  • Number of hours the project will take; 
  • Your rate; 
  • Total project cost; 
  • When payments are due; 
  • Timeline; 
  • Milestones; 
  • Points of contact for both you and the client; 
  • Tools and resources that will be purchased by you or by the client (Termageddon); 
  • Quality assurance – what devices and platforms you will test on; 
  • What must happen prior to launch (e.g. client must provide a Privacy Policy); 
  • Whether you will be providing a staging link to the client; 
  • If you are including maintenance and/or hosting; 
  • Assumptions – what is included in the project and what is not; 
  • And project completion criteria. 

Precaution #4: Use a Website Policies Waiver

Clients, not web agencies, are responsible for making sure their website not only has all the appropriate website policies (Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, Cookie Consent, etc.), but is also responsible for keeping them up to date as privacy laws change or new ones go into effect.

Many web designers know this, but not many clients do. Clients often times think the web designer is in charge of all-things-website and will blame their agency if they were ever to get into legal trouble. That’s a mess you don’t want to deal with.

A Website Policies Waiver is a document you can get for free that will let clients know:

  1. The importance of proper website policies;
  2. That the policies are their responsibility; 
  3. And offers a way to get the policies

This will also give you, the web agency, a physical document to point to if a client were to ever get into trouble and accuse you of ‘not informing them.’ 

Precaution #5: List Third-Party Features

Many website owners don’t realize that they share data with many third-party features. So, it’s always to A) Inform them of this and B) list out all the third-party features you intend to install on the website, such as:

  • Google Analytics
  • Video embeds
  • Google Maps
  • Advertising pixels (Meta Pixel)


Web agencies deserve good clients just as clients deserve good web agencies. Hopefully these precautions can help you, the web agency, screen potential clients to ensure everyone is happy throughout the process.

Want to also make some extra money as web agency? Be sure to check out Termageddon’s Agency Partner program

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About the Author
Hans Skillrud

Hans is the Vice President of Termageddon, an auto-updating website policies generator. With Termageddon, you can generate a comprehensive set of policies for your website, and then receive automatic updates to your policies when the laws change.  When not working on Termageddon, you can find Hans gardening, beekeeping, fishing or taking care of his chickens.

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