Visual contracts, comic contracts or graphic contracts, are an alternative way of writing legal contracts that utilises visual art to clarify the terms and conditions.
Visual contracting has been pioneered by academics at University of Western Australia and practitioners in South Africa, and has been implemented successfully in a variety of industries across the world. However, there are very few providers who can assist in enabling visual contracting commercially, without involvement in large research projects.
Alternative Contracting aims to close this gap, by working with the academics and the teams who spearheaded this movement, at a fraction of the cost and much faster than any research project.
What Visual Contracts Accomplish
A positive start to the customer relationship
Contracts should not be treated as a parachute, or worse a club, to use if the business relationship goes wrong. The contract is the defining element of the relationship with your customers/clients/employees and should be an opportunity to establish a positive relationship based on mutual trust.
Research has established that visual contracts via their clarity and accessibility help to establish trust at an early stage in the business relationship.
Alternative Contracting can take your existing contracts and reimaging them in a visual format that greatly enhances comprehension of the terms on both sides.
We work to pinpoint potential sources of conflict as well as areas in the contract that create differing expectations, we then use visual art to bring these areas into focus, greatly reducing the risk of future disagreements.
Visual contracts can emphasise the values of your organisation. Using bespoke avatars, visual styles and integrating existing logos and slogans we can put the values of your organisation front and centre. This can foster company pride and a more positive customer relationship.
Visual contracts have been implemented across the world for a number of years, and thousands have been signed. Despite this no visual contract has ever been challenged in court.
All existing data shows a remarkable drop in conflicts, and any issues which may arise have been dealt with amicably by reference to the clear contract frameworks.
Potential expansion of customer base
Research has shown a marked increase in understanding the terms of contracts presented in a visual style, across every demographic. This increase in comprehension is nearly identical across age demographics. Particular high increases have been observed among women.
Restructuring your existing contract
We carefully disassemble your existing contract document(s), and reassemble the clauses in a way that support a brief and clear visual style. With input from you and independent research we identify problem areas, that we then focus on. If the contract is electronic we can also embed links to training, ethical standards or anything else that supports the relationship.
We help identify risks and "customer pain points" to aid us in simplifying your agreements to the most essential frameworks which represent the core values of your business and the contract or regulation we are reframing.
We develop a visual style and a set of avatars that reflect the overall message that you want in your contract. We also adjust the tone and semantics of the contract to reflect these values.
Creating the storyboard
We create a storyboard based on the information gathered and present you with a preliminary contract. We work with you and our team of illustrators and designers to ensure we get the right "fit" for your contract or regulation. Once you are happy with the result we progress.
During this process we work to put behavioural drivers into the contract. This helps eliminate future conflicts, and ensures that communication and mediation will be the preferred option for conflict resolution.
Psychometric testing and focus groups
We can have the contract or regulation psychometrically tested and exposed to focus groups, and can make adjustments recommended by this process. We can continue to improve the contract via this method based on the clients' wishes and the agreed budget.
Your contract is reimagined
An alternative contract helps realise the potential of your organisation.
Photos & Videos
A Social Contract for Coronavirus
Frequently Asked Questions
Are visual contracts legally binding?
Yes. There are no form requirements in contract law. Verbal agreements, a handshake or a nod are all legally enforceable, so visual contracts are as well. In fact, the visual elements are specifically designed to avoid ambiguities. The challenge to visual contracts is not whether they are binding, but how they can be interpreted. We work to ensure their clarity.
Are visual contracts expensive?
Visual contracts can be more timely and expensive to create than their traditional word-based counter-parts, however, they are cheaper than any legal conflict, even a successful one! Research shows a drastic reduction in disputes for visual contracts.
Despite 1000’s of visual contracts having been signed, there has to date been no legal challenges against any of them.
Every contract we create is tailor-made to our clients' needs and specifications and prices reflect the complexity of the contract and the level of refining desired at the end stage. Talk to us about what you need, and we will quote you a price.
Are visual contracts suitable for my needs?
It is hard to see why any contract should not be as clear and accessible as possible. Visual contracts have been successful in several fields including employment contracts, services, disability support and many others. We are happy to talk to you to see if they can be right for you.
Are visual contract a radical idea?
Yes and no. For most of history the majority of mankind was illiterate and rules had to be communicated visually. Today rules are communicated via visual arts everywhere, street sign, safety regulations on an airplane or a simple no jumping in the pool sign.
Alternative contracting takes existing methods of illustrating rules and applies them, with some modification, to legal contracts.
Peter finished a Master of Historical Research from Leicester University in 2012 specialising in banking and diplomatic history, partly inspired by having worked for a bank. Peter now uses the experience with rendering very long and complicated historical contracts comprehensible to do the same with modern contracts.
Peter first became involved with visual contracting by working as a research assistance for Professor Camilla Andersen of University of Western Australia, who pioneered comic book style contracts.
Peter enjoys the way working on visual contracts allows him to combine his professional skills with a lifelong passion for painting and art.
Loui has been working as an illustrator for almost 40 years. He is the founder of Silvestro illustrations and has worked on a multitude of different projects. For over a decade Loui has provided live illustrations for talks and has become known not just for his artistic skills, but also for his ability to communicate complex ideas clearly and with humour.
Loui first became involved with visual contracting when he was hired to provide the illustrations for Professor Camilla Andersen of University of Western Australia.
Loui takes great pleasure from using his artistic talents to clarify commercial relationships.
An example of a one page visual contract
This one page contract was kindly shared by Dave Can Fix it Handyman Services and was illustrated by Joelle Young as part of our collaboration with the UWA comic book contracts team.
This is one half of Michaela Carr's celebrant contract, and a rare example of using photos. The use of photo's was prompted by a desire to give clients a clear image of what the day could look like.
This is one half of the contract to accept a place at a residential hall, it is presented as a pdf and when check boxes are filled the images change. The central idea was to present the mutual benefits of everyone following the rules. Below is the result of accepting everything on page one.
All blue words are hyperlinks to more detailed information.
A benefit of this more complex form of contract is that post acceptance the text can be reduced to a simple set of value-based promises. A second benefit is that the contract can branch with choices made in some checkboxes adding or removing future choices.
Alternative Contracting is registered in Australia and located in Perth, Western Australia. Our ABN is 40534760833
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact us.
For more information on the UWA comic contract project
Cost schedule for Alternative Contracting
All amounts listed are estimates as all our contracts are bespoke solutions.
Do you already have a Logo or visual design style?
Developing a style for the contract and avatars/character models
cost approx.. 1000$
Is the contract content already determined? And is it mapped out/written in plain English?
We can rewrite the contract for you, but as we are not a law firm this will have to happen in consultation with you legal representatives. We can provide contacts if you do not have representation.
Cost approx. $1500, but may vary depending on the size of the contract.
Do you need us to help identify main risks and customer pain-points?
We will do this in collaboration with your firm and legal representation, as needed.
Cost approx. 500$
What visual style are you interested in?
Strong visual images with hyperlinks to additional text, plain language contract supported by illustrations, a comic book contract? The more words are replaced with images the more images are required.
The cost per rough image created for testing and storyboarding is approx. 250$
How extensive is the contract?
The more comprehensive the contract, the more work is required. We are experienced in employment, services and sales contracts. We are happy to work with other forms of contracts in the understanding that the project may take slightly longer to complete. Certain contract types are dependent on specific technical language, in those case we will work with you to identify what can be simplifies.
What level of detail do you envisage for the imagery?
Since extraneous details might disrupt the meaning of the image, we usually keep the art style very clean and simply, likewise we usually work in black and white to avoid any meaning associated with colours. However, we are capable of developing art to any required specification but higher levels of details (say photorealism or avatars with recognisable features of employees) will increase the cost per image.
How fast do you want to proceed?
The more test contracts/documents we make in different styles and the more “rough” art we provide the easier and faster we will determine the exact style and format that suits your need. This does unfortunately increase the cost for illustrations.
We work from the presumption that we will only make a few key pieces of art to illustrate the most important conflict points in the contract or the most difficult to visualize aspects of the contract in the early phase. We will use these and generic placeholder art to develop the storyboards and then proceed with rough draft art once you have chosen a visual and artistic style that you prefer.
Each different storyboard or version thereof costs approx. 500$
Do you have legal representation?
As mentioned previously we are not a law firm, if you desire we can provide contacts to innovative law firms. We do not charge for this.
What media do you desire? Do you want the contract/document to be physical/digital/interactive?
If you do not require the contract to exist outside of the electronic medium, we can imbed hyperlinks, video or audio and have pop-up clarifications. We are happy to work to either specification, if you require anything exceptionally special for an electronic version (such as encryption), we have IT specialist available and we will provide a cost estimate for the specific project. A fully interactive bespoke contract app is approx. $10 000 in software development costs.
When we are ready to commit to a finished format?
The cost per image for turning the rough images into final art cost is 250$
Do you require us to provide focus group or psychometric testing?
Comic book contracts have been comprehensibly tested over a period of years at University of Western Australia. We have used focus group testing to ensure that bespoke contracts meet the needs of the target group, which is your way of testing if the contracts we have developed for you work as intended. We do advise this, for a number of larger contracts. Talk to us about whether this is needed.
Focus group testing can range between $1000 and $4000. Cost for comprehensive psychometric testing starts from 5000$.