The Importance of Your Website’s Terms and Conditions

Terms and ConditionsHave you ever stopped and considered the importance of your websites terms and conditions section? You know - that tiny section in the footer of your website, that you're convinced no one even reads. Perhaps you have received a few emails from a corporation notifying you that their terms and conditions have been updated.

What is so important about terms and conditions that you would be alerted to changes, and how can it affect you? Terms and conditions are essentially the guidelines or rules regarding basic use of your website, as well as website ownership.

The terms and conditions usually outline information such as:

  • Who owns and operates the site
  • Limited Liability for content made by both you and your visitors
  • Copyright notice and trademark
  • What a site will provide customers, such as products and services.
  • Expectations the site has regarding customer use of their site
  • Potential consequences for misuse of the website
  • The use of cookies
  • Use of third party information
  • Set governing law, which are laws in your companies operating state/province and country

Terms and conditions certainly aren't legally necessary but are definitely worth considering.  When designed properly they can protect your business, prevent abuse of your site, limit your liability in the case of errors, or potential misunderstandings. Most importantly, terms and condition establishe the relationship between two parties in writing. Wouldn’t having a document limiting your liability be something you would want on your website?

When creating a Terms and Conditions document you can certainly utilize the outline of other similar sites, but you shouldn’t copy them. After all, each business is really unique and will have different needs as to what should or shouldn't be covered. You can use a terms and condition generator to get started.  Ultimately, you could also work with your company’s attorney to draft and approve terms and conditions for you.

When it comes to Terms and Conditions vs. Privacy Policy you should ideally have both. While you don’t necessarily have to have Terms and Conditions on your website,  a Privacy Policy is mandatory if you are collecting personal data:  “If you are gathering user’s personal data, you are required by law to have a formal Privacy Policy – even if you don’t have a Terms and Conditions page.”

While probably the least read page on your company’s website, a Terms and Conditions page may well prove to be the most important. It can provide a great deal of protection if it is ever needed.

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