Legally Speaking

This mistake is pretty common across most websites on the web today. We know we’ve gotten in a hurry ourselves and made this mistake, but it’s critical to be sure not to make this mistake and it is easily remedied.

What we’re talking about here is the required legal mumbo jumbo on our websites.

Not only is it a good suggestion but in many cases, it is required by your merchant account and in the United States the Federal Trade Commission.

Let’s get a little more specific about what we’re talking about. You should make it a common practice to add the correct notifications about your Privacy Policy, Earnings Disclaimer, and Terms of Service. It’s also a good idea to add your business contact information.

The Privacy Policy helps build trust with your website visitors and shows that you are professional and trustworthy. This policy should state things about what information you collect, how the information is used or not used, how you protect the info you do collect and things such as that.

The Earnings Disclaimer should spell out in detail that you do not guarantee that your product or service will give them a set level of income and that you accurately state what is possible or if income is possible.

Terms of Service simply states what your acceptable use policies are for your products and how they are handled, as well as what is allowed and not allowed for your products, services or information.

As for the contact information you should at least put your physical location for your business and a way to contact you or a member of your company. A good way to handle that is either via a contact form or a link to your support system. By using that method you tend to cut down on subjecting that email address to unnecessary incoming email.

You can find many resources for this online by searching for each term in Google followed by template or generator such as “privacy policy template” or “terms of service generator”. A product we use and recommend is AutoWebLaw.com that will create all of the documentation you need for your website.

As for the placement of these documents, it’s best to have them in the footer as links at the very bottom of your webpage. Be sure to have them open as a sized pop-up window so that it doesn’t deter from sales or distracts the visitor by causing them to try to find how to get back to your website.

This post is an excerpt from the book 50 Biggest Website Mistakes that I co-wrote with Bret Ridgway

1 Comment

  1. Narek Gabrielian on February 4, 2011 at 12:23 am

    This should be common sense for any website owner and anybody who transacts online. I’m surprised that some people might not know about this. But, it’s a good thing you’re emphasizing the importance of having main legal documents to satisfy FTC guidelines.

    Better and better,

    Narek

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