Starting a post about legal policies with a legal disclaimer? You bet!
I’m definitely not a lawyer. This post is meant to be educational in nature but you should always, always consult a lawyer when making any serious legal choices for your business.
Ok, now onto the nitty gritty. Site terms and conditions. The ugly, red headed stepchild of website pages. We all know as creatives, there are some not so fun, technical areas of our businesses that we just have to do, like taxes. Adding a policy page on your website is like that. Many web designers and developers don’t know about this requirement at all! I include policy pages for every client I work with and there’s a simple reason for that: it’s illegal not to.
Website laws don’t only affect large companies
You use sites every single day that have laid out terms and conditions but you may think those types of things are for the big companies and not your small business. However, laws are always updating and there is a new one that can affect you that went into effect May 25, 2018. The GDPR are a group in the EU who protect their citizens from having their information taken and used in ways that were not clear when they provided it. If you could possibly have visitors on your site from the EU (like if you serve clients and customers internationally), you’ll need to have clears terms on your site.
Very similar to the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (the one that made spam a no-no and made it illegal to not include your address and an unsubscribe button in your newsletter), these laws are in place to protect everyone. But that means you need to comply, too!
You look more legit
Note: this is not a point that means, “this is the main reason you should be convinced to add terms and conditions to your site” because as I mentioned, it’s illegal not to. But you bet this is a cherry on top!
When a visitor can easily view the terms you’ve laid out that they need to follow on your site, they feel like they are more protected as well. Even though the link to your page can be as simple as adding it to your footer, a website viewer will see this and know you take your business and the tools you use to conduct it very seriously. Building trust in your audience is created with a lot of little touch points. Showing your audience you’re following the law and doing things the right way will help them believe in what you offer that much more.
You’re already implementing some legal protection on your site
You know that little line of text in your footer that has the copyright info? You’re already protecting your site quite a bit without knowing it! Adding “Copyright 2018” to your footer isn’t exactly something you had to consult a lawyer to create and implement, but you know it’s important to protect the content and images on your site.
Policy pages are similar but encompass a lot more specific information to tell visitors what to expect on your site and how you’ll use their information (like cookies and data when using Google Analytics). Are there certain items you want to include depending on your site’s content and uses?
You have a blog
When you’re sharing information (especially advice and education) to your audience, what if you’re wrong? Really! We’re all human, errors may creep into our posts or website content. You want to make sure someone can’t come after you and claim they followed a blog post you wrote talking about doubling their income with these 3 steps and when they did the steps, their income didn’t change. Believe me, crazier things have happened. Having a disclaimer and limiting your liability (or saying that you can’t be held responsible for how someone interprets and implements the content on your site) will help protect if your good intentions or expertise don’t work for every single reader.
You have a contact form, opt-in form, or shop
A solution that relieves your headache
Having this information is essential to having a legally sound website but how do you figure out what this super important page should say? You can hire a lawyer (which is recommended but may not be plausible in the season of business you’re currently in) or you can use an amazing resource like The Contact Shop.
Christina Scalera has created a shop with all of your business’ legal needs and she has a GDPR compliant terms and conditions template for any creative’s website. All of my own clients use this template and I feel confident that they are not only protected but that the value of this product is a steal for the peace of mind and quality it provides. It’s super easy to create your own terms! Purchase the template then when it arrives in your inbox, plug in your specific business information and use what you need. That’s it!
Do you feel ready to tackle the dreaded policy page? With a little bit of time and some expert help, creating this vital information on your site won’t be bad at all! It’s like ripping off a bandaid.