If you sell products online, or if you have valuable or proprietary content hidden behind a password, you may be tempted to slap long, heavy-handed legal statements on your website. I’m not a legal expert by any stretch of the imagination, so I’m not one to vent an opinion on the necessities of online legal statements.
But I do know that, as an intensive user of the Internet, I get bombarded by them. End-user license agreements, privacy statements, legal disclaimers, copyright notices, they’re overwhelmingly abundant. And, as I’m not a lawyer, I don’t understand most of them.
These legal statements may be necessary, but that doesn’t mean your customers will read them. For some companies this is exactly the intention as they hide oppressive terms and conditions in cryptic legalese. But if you do business fairly, you may want to consider putting a human-readable version of your legal agreement on your website as well.
Creative Commons is a prime example of how you can make a legal agreement easy, even pleasant, to read. For example the Creative Commons agreement for this blog is easily read and understood. There’s also a more traditional version which you’ll agree is much harder to comprehend.
So treat your customers respectfully and tell them in plain language what their rights and obligations are. Not only will this eliminate frustration at yet another incomprehensible legal statement, it’s likely to make your customers feel more confident about doing business with you.