website legals for online small business owners

Why should I bother with website legals? (And how do I write them?)

Who has time for Website Legals?

Your business is birthing, you have started marketing, and you are all over Facebook, Instagram, and your website (all of which are going to showcase your beautiful business to the world).

You have spent bucketloads of time and angst writing the perfect ‘about’ page, crafting landing page copy, taking beautiful headshots, collecting testimonials…

And then your website developer asks you for your ‘terms and conditions’ page.

Or do they? If you’re working with an experienced, savvy, and responsible developer, they will ask you for terms and conditions, a disclaimer, and a privacy policy and upload all of that to your website BEFORE it goes live!

Yeah, I know—you are immersed in the whole story of excitement that is  your business baby and your beautiful website. The whole thing about terms and conditions and disclaimers and privacy policies is like drinking cold instant coffee when your business birthing journey so far has been an extra-hot latte.

I mean, seriously—does anyone even read that stuff, all those long words, legalese that can make you go cross-eyed? You are an entrepreneur, a small business, a quirky gig.

So do you really need website legals?

Yes, you do. And here’s why.

  1. Legal protection aside for a minute, let’s talk about building trust.  You are in business, and it’s the responsible and professional thing to do. Not having website legals (terms and conditions, a disclaimer, and privacy policy) leaves a big hole in your business process credibility.
  2. If you are collecting personal data from users of your website, you are required by law to have a formal privacy policy. If you don’t, you are breaking the law.
  3. It is smart business practice to have website legals in place on your website, because if a user (client or customer) takes you to court, you can limit your liability AND protect your rights to your website content. The court will consider the relationship between you and the person who is not happy. That relationship is defined in your website legals, so you want to make sure you have them. (And, even better, have them written and quality-assured by a legal professional.)
  4. If you are selling a service or product on your website (i.e., there is ‘pay now’ or ‘buy now’ button), you need to have an online payment policy dealing with refunds and cancellations and conditions relating to the purchase. Again, legal requirements aside, providing an online payment policy is good business practice. Why would you leave your clients to second-guess how you want to manage your sales?

So, you have your drop-dead gorgeous website and you know you need website legals. What next?

You need to understand your business processes, because the content in your website legals will be unique to your business and website. The good news is that there are common themes that are part of most website legals:

  • limitation of liability (from errors)
  • disclaimers (stuff you are not responsible for)
  • copyright of your content
  • privacy policy (how you manage people’s private information that they provide to you)
  • governing law (where any issues will be resolved).

You could copy and paste from another business’s website… but, seriously? Yeah, I know people do it, but you know better, right? And even though it may be tempting, it’s also copyright infringement. It makes sense to look and consider what other similar businesses are doing in their website legals, but copying is bad business practice however you look at it.

Instead of copying from someone else’s website, get help to craft website legals to meet the specific needs and requirements of your business and interaction with clients and website users.

Or, if you already have website legals (even if you’ve ‘borrowed’ them from elsewhere), have them reviewed.

The most important thing to remember with website legals is that you need to communicate to your clients and website visitors:

  • how you want the website interactions (including sales) to occur
  • how you intend the content to be used.

If you don’t do that, you leave your website and business wide open to abuse and inappropriate use of your content on your website.

Need someone to look over your existing legals or draft you some from scratch? Do you just need somewhere to start?  Or are you totally lost?

Work with me to create your website legals so that you can be proud of your legals and know that they represent your beautiful business well. Book your free Quick Chat now.

 

XX

Shalini

6 thoughts on “Why should I bother with website legals? (And how do I write them?)”

  1. Great points here Shalini! As a web design firm we know its important that our clients have very tailored website legals that suit their business. We look forward to seeing some great T &C’s on to the web with your help! When an out of the box T& C just will not do our clients will be speaking with you!

    Reply
  2. Some great info here, thanks Shalini! Something to refer to as I add more to my website this year, especially if I add a newsletter signup re. peoples’ personal information.

    Reply

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