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Useful Legal Documents and Templates For Designers

Useful Legal Documents and Templates For Designers

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Useful Legal Documents and Templates For Designers (4 mins)

A good contract is key to starting a client project off successfully. It sets the right expectations and prevents misunderstandings and, ultimately, potential legal problems. Let’s take a closer look at how to create legal documents that protect everyone’s interests, as well as handy templates and frameworks you can use right away.

The Professional Association for Design (AIGA) published a comprehensive handbook with everything you need to know to build your own custom legal documents.

Friendly reminder: You can find design and UX patterns in Smart Interface Design Patterns — with live UX training later this year. Free preview.

The Ingredients Of A Good Agreement

To me personally, the crux of a good arrangement is truly understanding and agreeing on the statement of work. I always try to be very deliberate when defining the scope of work, including assumptions, process, commitments, and milestones.

Typically it includes:

  • This is how we understood your problem.
  • This is what the solution requires (breakdown of tasks).
  • These are the assumptions that we are making.
  • This is how it’s going to work (our process).
  • This is where and when we’ll need your (timely) input.
  • These are the milestones and the timeline.
  • That’s the delivery date we commit to (for that fixed scope).
  • That’s the total cost of the work.
  • Late scope changes are expensive and cause delays.
  • All scope changes are estimated and billed separately.

A good contract prevents confusion and protects everyone’s interests. As Shel Perkins noted once, you realize just how important this is after you’ve been burned a few times. Better to be safe than sorry, just in case something unexpected happens.

Legal Document Templates

The templates below are fantastic starting points to set up your contracts and legal documents — for anything from NDAs to design work to consulting work. You can easily customize and adapt them to your project’s scope and needs. Thank you to the fine folks who kindly share them for anyone to use!

  • AIGA Standard Form Of Agreement For Design Services (PDF)
    A very thorough handbook with contract modules for written agreements around digital design, print, interactive design, motion, and environmental use — with a glossary and a checklist. Created for AIGA by Shel Perkins and Linda Joy Kattwinkel.
  • Independent Contractor Agreement (PDF)
    Useful for when you are subcontracting with design firms and ad agencies. By AIGA.
  • Legal Docs and Contracts Templates (PDF/Word)
    A set of contracts for NDA, design work, work-for-hire agreement, consulting work, IP assignment, and sample contracts that we’ve released a while back on Smashing Magazine.
  • Contract Template (Figma kit)
    A simplified freelance contract for design work. By Kristen Altomare-Ciallella.
  • Overdue Invoices, Quote, and Proposal Templates (Figma kit)
    A set of Figma templates for invoices, overdue invoices, contracts, project proposals, and quotation. Comes with default text and color styles that can be customized. By Sharanya Dutta.
  • Editable Pricing and Packages Quotes (Figma kit)
    The Designer’s Toolkit includes more than 40 editable documents for designers, among them templates for quotes, design contracts, and pricing and packaging guides. By Andikan Bassey and Elvis Obi.
  • Project Proposal and Brief Template (Figma kit)
    An easily-editable project proposal template with pages for cover, project intro, pricing, deadlines, and terms and conditions. By Priyank Shah.
  • Freelance Contract Template (Figma kit)
    A proposal template for freelancers to define their services. Includes work and payment terms, project scope, legal, copyright, and terms and conditions. By Om Arya.

Friendly reminder: You can find design and UX patterns in Smart Interface Design Patterns — with live UX training later this year. Free preview.

Sending a lot of optimism, hope and good energy your way!
Happy designing, and thank you for reading!

Vitaly and The Smashing Family (

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