Are you starting a website and want to get things organized, so you’ll know everything is in order? Smart thinking! Website design and creation is a creative process, but it is also one that requires a great deal of organization and planning.
The more you plan and lay out what you need to do ahead of time, the more you will be able to accomplish what you want to do. Starting a website also means that you have to evaluate what is important to you so that you spend the time on the things that are the most important to your site and your brand.
As an example to help you get started, we have outlined some of the critical areas regarding your contact and information pages that we believe any website should have as a primary guideline. Keep in mind that this is not all you should include on your site, nor is it meant to be the focus on your website. The pages discussed in this post address what you might term “the fine print” of your site. But they are important.
How you choose to create your site will depend on some factors including the niche area or industry you are representing, the style you want to use to create your site, and even your navigation.
In this post, we will keep “best practices” in mind as we make suggestions on how to create and design your site as a basic reference.
Writing Legal Pages
The following are considered the key elements of a business website’s legal page and contact and information pages by most web design authority sites. Take a look at each section and then read on to see some of our resources and templates or ideas you could use for each one.
A disclaimer is a legal statement in which you are forewarning your visitors that you are doing your due diligence to inform them about a specific situation or set of conditions. For example, if you are a digital media business owner and you have downloadable media on your website, it’s possible you could have a disclaimer that states that all of the content on your site is your property and that you own the rights to the content. This would be important in this situation since your reputation depends on doing things right regarding copyright and honoring the intellectual property of others.
Also, you are letting people know that the digital files on your website belong to you and that people must follow the guidelines you have set forth regarding your digital media files. Disclaimers may also note the condition of something, such as informing customers that an item is “used” and not “new” or telling them that a movie is a “fictional work” and not based on reality.
A disclaimer could also include a statement of freedom from liability in which you state that people use a product you are offering “at their own risk” or you might include a warning statement about the potential dangers involved. In most cases, you are not completely free of liability just because you state that you have no liability. But warning people of any potential problem or stating a legal condition goes a long way in court to show that you did your “due diligence” to keep people safe and informed regarding any products or services you offer on your site.
Finally, disclaimers may sometimes also be found in a legal contract, in which you clarify a situation that may potentially be legally binding.
Below is a template you can use to create a disclaimer page on the WordPress.org website platform.
The Digital Millenium Copyright Act is important if you host any digital media on your site (as mentioned in the previous section). But it is also important to mention regarding any other content that you use on your website that may be the property of someone else. You could state your disclaimer to cover the fact that you do not knowingly place any material on your site that belongs to others without their permission, then put a DMCA symbol on your page to remind visitors that your works are protected by the DMCA.
One way to include this statement that will easily tell people your works are legally protected is to use the link below.
You can use the above link to report the copyright infringement, request a “takedown” of the infringing material, and more. Scroll down to the middle of the page to copy and paste the widget to warn people that your content is protected by the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.
One “disclaimer” about DMCA. Please be advised that all content is automatically protected by what is known as “common law copyright” once created and set in a “tangible form.” This tangible form does include any digital form as well including eBooks, audiobooks, and any other intellectual content that you create.
However, creating a work alone may not ensure that you will collect damages in a Federal Court if you have an infringement case. To be sure of your rights to defend them in court, you should go to copyright.gov and pay the fee to get your works officially copyrighted. There is a fee for this. Most artists hold the belief that most works are fine with common law copyright, but if you have a work that is highly coveted or that has the potential to make you a large sum of money, you may be wise to get it officially copyrighted.
- How information is collected on your site
- How the information is used
- Why it is obtained in the first place (for mailing lists, improving sites, etc.)
- Whether the information collected is shared with any third parties
This last point is the most important because it discloses whether you are sharing their data with anyone else. Some people will not do business with sites that do this. But the important thing is to be transparent and offer “full disclosure” if you do this. If you do not, you could be liable for damages for “failure to warn,” and you might have to pay punitive damages to customers if they suffer financial or other types of damage due to your negligence.
Terms and Conditions
A “Terms and Conditions” page is also an important part of your website that should be made easily available to your visitors. This page is, in the most basic sense, an agreement or contract that your visitors agree to opt in to, purchase, or invest in a service or product.
This is why it is so important that it is thought out carefully and worded in language that is both legal but easy to understand.
To learn more about how to write a “Terms and Conditions” page, check out the link below:
- Wiki: How to Write a Terms and Conditions page
- Shopify.com, a well-known online eCommerce platform also provides a free “Terms and Conditions” template and you can sign up for a free trial here.
About Me Page
Another important element of your website is the “About Me” Page. On this page, you should include a short biography about how you developed your business, what purpose you hope it serves, and some element of your philosophy of business. This is the page that people will go to to learn more about how you got started and what your business means to you.
Your “About Me” page is also a place to create some free PR for yourself and your brand. Make some statement about how you do business including a statement about the way your goal is to please your customers or some other statement that will ensure your customers you have their best interest at heart.
Check out this example “About Me” page to get started.
The Contact Page is the page where you will include essential information about how visitors can contact you. The following information should serve as a guideline on what you should include:
- Website URL (Main page)
- Email address
- Physical address (if any)
- Toll-free number of another phone number that you want people to use to contact you
Also, you may also want to build a form that will allow customers to contact you directly. An example of a contact form is shown below:
This is just an example of another website that utilizes a form of contacts. You do not have to do this, but it may encourage more connections with potential customers than simply providing your email address. Remember, when people are online, they want you to do the hard work. If you make it easy for them, you are more likely to get a response.
Don’t Forget Mobile Users
The world is quickly moving toward a mobile environment. Statistics show that there will be over 4.93 billion mobile users by the end of the year 2018 (this year) and this trend is only expected to increase over the foreseeable future. For this reason, it is important to make your website mobile-friendly as well as to provide easy access to your contact information, Terms of Service, and Legal Disclaimer pages, as well as the other types of content we have discussed in this post.
One place you can go that will help you make this process easier is WordPress.org. Even if you are not a WordPress user, you may learn a lot from looking at the online templates and plugins that WordPress offers website owners.
If you have a WordPress site, all the better! You can search for plugins here to help you create some of these pages within the WP format quickly and easily.
A Few More Resources for You
Below are a few more resources that you may benefit from to help you create the important legal pages you need to be secure. By creating these pages, you’ll rest assured that you have done everything you can to be transparent and you should not have any legal issues with your business regarding privacy or FTC regulations if you follow this according to the laws in your state.
These are just a few resources and tools that we thought you could benefit from. Check out this topic yourself by searching for legal page help or try some of the plugins for WordPress to test drive them. Your web server where your page is located may also offer some free templates for these content areas.
It’s always best to think ahead and plan for everything. By preparing these types of pages now, you will know you are in compliance with the law and protect both yourself and your customers. And that will earn their trust and increase your business!