All About Website Policies
You need a website.
And you also need website policies.
They have a big impact on your customers and your business.
Here’s what you need to know…
1. Why You Need Website Policies
Without a website policy, you’re bound to default sales rules, like a 30 day return policy and paying for return shipping.
A website policy is how you change those rules. You can make items final sale, you can change the cancellation policy, you can add an exchange policy, and you can make customers pay for return shipping.
You need a good website policy to protect your business and ensure that you’re not paying for needless shipping charges or issuing unnecessary refunds.
2. An FAQ Page isn’t Enough
It’s good to put your customer service policies on an FAQ page for reference, but that’s not binding.
You need customers to actually accept the terms in the checkout.
That’s why you need Website Policies.
3. Don’t Copy + Paste Website Policies
You’re bound by your website terms.
If you ever have to go to court, you’ll be held to whatever they say.
You need to know that they’re legit and that they work with your business.
You can’t do that when you copy + paste someone else’s website policies.
First, you don’t even know if they’re legit.
Second, you don’t know if they’re right for your business. A lot of website policies are industry specific.
For example, our website policies are specific to attorneys. If you copied and pasted them, you’d be bound to a lot of rules for attorneys. And because you’ve included them in your policies, people could sue you for not following them.
Third, it’s important to read them all the way through. Remember, you’re bound by what they say.
For example, we know one business owner who was based in California but had to travel to Arizona to enforce her website terms because that’s what the policy said. She found the website terms online and she didn’t read them all.
So here’s what we recommend:
Find website terms written by an attorney
Make sure they apply to your business
4. What your Website Policies Should Say
Terms + Conditions
These policies tells customers what they need to know about your website.
You'll want to spell out the rules for using the site, sharing content, when you’ll remove comments, and where users can contact your company.
You’ll also want to include that you’re not responsible for bad links, the site crashing, or spreading a virus.
If you run an ecommerce site, make sure to spell out how you handle orders, returns, and shipping.
This tells users how you'll store their information: whether you'll sell it, collect their cookies, track their location, and how they can opt out of data collection.
1. Disclaimers about what information you store (via forms or cookies)
This includes first and last names, emails, addresses, birthdays, phone and credit card numbers, criminal history and other personal characteristics - basically anything that could identify someone.
It includes what you do with trackable non-personally identifiable data like IP addresses, other location data, passwords, shopping cart info or security answers.
It also includes mentioning your Do Not Track (DNT) protocol
2. What you do with the information gathered from site (and app) users.
Do you keep it confidential?
Do you sell it?
Do you share it with a website provider, like Squarespace or Shopify?
5. Follow GDPR
GDPR is a European regulation
It requires companies with a website to protect their visitor data.
It applies to companies who are doing business with European customers, advertising to European audiences, or tracking European audiences in your website analytics.
You’ll need to list what data you’re collecting, why you’re collecting it, where you’re storing it, and how long you’re keeping it.
You should also include how and when you will notify them of a data breach.
Here are the areas you should include…
Browsing the website
Your website company (Squarespace, Shopify, Wordpress) probably collects certain information from website visitors automatically, like the time, location, and pages visited.
You need to collect certain information (like billing and shipping) to process orders.
Accessing the server
Your server will collect information about the user as well.
Creating user accounts
You’ll need to collect personal information (email, phone) to create user accounts.
You’ll collect information when someone completes a contact form.
You’ll collect mobile data when people access the website on their phone, like their location.
You’ll collect email newsletter analytics, like whether they opened the email or clicked a link.
You’ll also need to:
add your contact information (name + address) to bottom of emails
ensure that recipients can unsubscribe or update their data anytime
send newsletters only to users who have specifically agreed to opt-in
You’ll collect cookies like their preferences, time spent on the site, referral sources, etc.
Third party apps
You’ll need to list all the third parties that you use to collect this information (Google Analytics, Squarespace, Convertkit, etc)
6. Where to Put Your Website Policies
Add your website terms to a new page on your website.
Make sure the page is accessible from the bottom of the homepage.