A Guide To The Terms Of Use For Your Website

You’ve noticed them way down at the bottom of a webpage, stuffed somewhere between “About Us” and “All rights reserved”. You’ve probably ignored them on most, if not all, of the web pages you have visited in your time because, hey, that’s just boring lawyer stuff, right?

Although many of us will find the terms of use a bit drab, they are a necessary part of your website. Website operators must be legally protected, and terms of use are just the ticket for this. Here are a few tips to get your terms of use off to a great start.
First things first: if you’re not a lawyer, you should consult one. You wouldn’t ask your local baker to manage your website, just as your local baker wouldn’t ask you to bake him or her a dozen cupcakes for a birthday party. Lawyers are experts on the law, and by using trusted counsel you will make sure your website’s terms of use keep you legally protected.
There are resources online that offer a free, generic terms of use to the public. While these are a great starting point, they are by no means exhaustive. Just as each business is different, so must be the terms of use. Cater your terms of use to the intricacies of your individual business.
Make sure your terms of use are written in an easy-to-understand and friendly tone. Even though many people will skip over them, those who do read them will be reading them for a reason. If you write in language that is thick with legalese and long, multisyllabic words, customers – both current and potential – may be intimidated by the type of language and be less likely to purchase from you. But if your terms of use are written in a clear, simple, and friendly manner, it will ensure that anyone reading them knows exactly what is being said; and who knows, those people might even be easier to work with should legal action need to be taken.
There are a few important topics you want to make sure are covered by your terms of use. First, you should inform the user very early on that your by using your website he or she agrees to adhere and be bound by your terms of use. Without this, your terms of use are all but obsolete – this needs to be crystal clear.
Although it may seem counterintuitive, you must also remove any responsibility from yourself for the information presented on your website. Sure, you stand behind your company 100%, but even though information may be accurate now, it could end up being inaccurate at some point in the future, and that information could get overlooked when editing your website content, meaning that without this part, you’d be legally liable. Users need to be aware that not all the information on your website may be completely accurate all of the time.
Make sure your intellectual property is protected. Copyright infringement is a big consideration, so your terms of use should make it clear where you stand on proprietary data. You’ll also want to play the other side of the coin and make it easy for a user to get in touch if they feel a copyright has been infringed upon.
Finally, it’s never been more important to make your users’ data secure. Security hacks happen every day, so inform your clients exactly how their information is used, as well as protect your company from liability should the data be stolen via hacking or otherwise. Hacking is far too common these days, and we must do our best to protect both our clients and ourselves should it happen to us.
There you have it, a great starting point to begin forming your company’s terms and conditions. Protect yourself and you’ll be surfing the web as cool as a cucumber.