Website Privacy, Terms & Conditions and Accessibility: What You Need to Know

When you think about building and maintaining your website, what comes to mind first? For most people, it’s design, user experience, content and search engine optimization. These are all interesting and important components that come together to help you achieve your goal of generating leads and increasing revenue.

Items that are less exciting and not as top-of-mind, yet far from unimportant, include website privacy, security, disclosures and accessibility. If you haven’t given them much thought, you’re not alone. These are the kinds of things that can be easily overlooked if you’re not a web developer.

Digital marketing is a godsend because it allows companies to personalize the experiences of current and potential customers and stay in front of them thanks to retargeting. Even when they leave your website, they can encounter your brand on social media via ads, for example.

However, navigating the complexities of digital marketing is more challenging than ever. Privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have impacted data collection and usage. Future legislation could muddy the waters even more.

As a result, companies must be diligent about:

  • Being transparent about their data collection and use practices
  • Only collecting and using certain types of personal data
  • Obtaining explicit opt-in consent from individuals before collecting and using their data
  • Properly handling requests from individuals to access their data or have it deleted
  • Making sure the website is accessible to all users

Addressing these things isn’t exciting but it is essential. They exist to protect either your business, the user or both. In this article, we’ll provide context about the reasons you need to have current policies in place related to privacy, terms and conditions and accessibility. We’ll also share some recommendations to help you ensure your site checks all the boxes now and will remain in compliance in the future.

Website Privacy Policy

Most websites have some kind of privacy policy. Generally speaking, they all share similarities and cover many of the same topics. However, you shouldn’t assume that privacy policies are interchangeable. What applies to one company won’t apply to yours exactly, so don’t think that you can get by with a copy and paste of an existing policy.

Every business collects and uses data differently, so your company’s privacy policy must disclose to visitors the specifics of what your business does. Consider these questions and disclosures:

  • Who is the owner of the website? – Basic contact information of the owner (Hopefully, it’s you)
  • What data does your website collect and how is it collected?
  • What is the legal basis for your data collection?
  • Why are you collecting the data?
  • Which third parties, if any, will have access to the information collected?
  • Will data be transferred across borders/overseas?
  • What are the users’ rights?
  • What is your process for notifying users of updates to your privacy policy?
  • When was the policy published or updated?

If you don’t have an existing privacy policy or haven’t updated yours in a long time, we recommend addressing it soon. Get our recommendations on tools to make it easier later in this article. When developing and implementing your privacy policy, have your legal team review it to ensure everything is accurate and nothing is missing.

Terms & Conditions

While the privacy policy is designed to protect users, the terms and conditions are designed to protect organizations. Any business that sells goods and services online should include a terms and conditions section on its website. It should detail what you’re offering your customers and what you expect from them in return.

Terms and conditions exist to:

  • Limit your liability with things like warranties, returns, exchanges, etc.
  • Regulate the behavior of users (prohibit reuse of images, content, etc.)
  • Make it easier to prove intentional copyright/trademark infringement or favorably resolve disputes over intellectual property
  • Give you backing if you need to terminate the accounts of users for abuse or withhold service
  • Give users peace of mind that your site/business is trustworthy

Having a current terms and conditions policy on your website protects your brand and content. Again, we recommend working with your legal team and adding or updating your terms and conditions if anything is lacking.

Accessibility

People with disabilities need technologies that assist them in accessing and exploring the internet. These technologies include:

  • Mouse alternatives
  • Screen readers
  • Unique browser settings

If your site doesn’t comply with web content accessibility guidelines or have an accessibility policy that outlines how you have taken steps to make your site accessible to all, the worst-case scenario is that you could face lawsuits.

A valuable component of the accessibility policy is a statement that if the user is unable to access or consume your content for any reason, they should contact you for assistance. Provide a phone number and email address where they can reach you.

Making your site as accessible as possible and having a prevalent accessibility statement shows users that you are committed to making your content available to whoever wants to consume it.

For additional information on developing web accessibility policies, click here.

Tip, Trick or Talk

Tools to Make Managing Your Website Privacy Policy, Terms and Conditions and Accessibility Easier

Creating policies related to privacy, terms and conditions and accessibility and keeping them up to date in the ever-changing online world can be a challenge. If you’re not knowledgeable on the subject and don’t know the best sources of information, the policies on your site can quickly become outdated and irrelevant.

Fortunately, many companies offer tools and services to keep your site in compliance. Below are a few of them that we utilize for our company and the clients that hire us to create, update and manage their sites:

  • Termageddon– Helps identify the privacy laws that apply to you, generates disclosures required under the laws and provides updates whenever the laws change or new ones are enacted. Includes privacy policies, terms and conditions, cookie consent and more!
  • Usercentrics – Obtains, manages and optimizes consents on your website. It provides transparency for the use of cookies and other tracking technologies on your site.
  • AccessiBe– Provides technology that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze and modify your website content to make it more accessible to users. These solutions help you comply with web accessibility standards and regulations.

Get Your Policies in Order Today

If any of your policies are due for an update, don’t delay! Take care of your website privacy, terms and conditions and accessibility tasks as soon as possible to give your site visitors peace of mind and protect your company from any legal issues.

For more website-related content, read our articles Getting Your New Website Project Underway, How to Save Time & Money on Your Next Website Project and Website Maintenance: What It is & Why You Need It.

Have additional questions about website design and development or want to learn even more? Call us at 815.431.1000 or submit this form to contact us. You can also visit the Web Design & Development section of our blog.

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