As a lawyer that specializes in legal compliance in the online business world through trademarking and contracts, you hear me talk a lot about having a legally compliant website.
Many times I notice that business owners will start their business, file their LLC, create a pretty website with little to no legalities included and start selling their products and services.
And trust me, I get it! When you’re first starting as a business owner, you don’t know what you don’t know.
There are SO many things you have to learn and let’s be real – the legal stuff usually falls to the bottom of your list.
I’ll admit, it can feel boring, but also intimidating, so it’s easier to avoid it than to face reality and make it happen.
While I totally understand (because I’ve been there myself even as a practicing lawyer that literally went to school for this stuff), I also want you to know that continuing to avoid the legal aspects of your business could cost you… BIG TIME.
Not only can you waste precious dollars on building a business that has no legal backing, but you also can waste precious time that you can never get back.
So because I want to save you from some of the mishaps that I personally experienced when first starting my business, I have a list of 5 key things you MUST have on your website in order to be viewed as legally compliant.
And no… that doesn’t mean your website has to be boring. After we go through the list, I’m going to share how I have an aesthetic, effective, AND legal website and how YOU can too!
5 Website Must Haves For Legal Compliance
Yes, you read that correctly. $2,500+ per visitor if you’re missing a simple policy that often looks like this.
This policy has one job: to inform your website users of what to expect so THEY are protected and so are YOU!
Well, as annoying as it might be to press “I accept.” every single time you visit a new site, I for one LOVE when I see this because it tells me that the creators of the site went the extra mile to be legally compliant.
And if you’re among the many who have heard the term “cookies” before, but have no clue what they actually are, let me explain:
Website cookies are small pieces of data that websites store on a user’s device when the user visits the site and the main purpose of website cookies is to remember information about the user’s browsing activity and preferences, allowing for a more personalized and efficient web experience.
Most business owners want to be able to track their website visitors and gather user data to further inform their marketing, which is GREAT – but make sure you do so legally!
Disclaimers are another HUGE piece that makes your website legally compliant.
Generally speaking, disclaimer on your website is a legal statement used to limit your liability and inform users about certain aspects of your website or its content.
Overall, these statements are intended to protect YOU as the website owner from legal claims and to ensure that users are aware of the website’s limitations and potential risks!
Depending on your industry, there are various types of disclaimers that you may need.
For example, on my website I have a disclaimer stating that The Boutique Lawyer is not a law firm and this isn’t legal advice. This disclaimer statement would protect me if anyone ever claimed that I acted as a lawyer on their behalf!
Disclaimers are huge for all business owners, but especially if you fall into an industry where people expect certain results, such as health and wellness, financial, coaching etc.
To help you know what type of disclaimer to use for your specific business, CLICK HERE to browse the options – when in doubt, a General Disclaimer will typically suffice.
- Disclaim Paid Promotions
Speaking of disclaimers, did you know that you are also legally required to disclaim your participation in gifted collabs, brand deals, affiliate programs, etc.?
It’s true! Any type of promotion that can lead to you receiving money, requires a disclaimer.
As a business owner, you could potentially get sued under the Federal Trade Commission for failing to disclose gifted, paid or sponsored collaborations with brands or influencers.
Yep, the FTC don’t play. 🤪
While I am a huge supporter of affiliate marketing and I encourage you to pursue opportunities like this, make sure you’re backing yourself up legally before doing so!
Here’s more guidance on this if you’re in need!
- Terms and Conditions
Lastly, you want to ensure that you have some sort of Terms and Conditions (also referred to as Terms of Purchase or Terms of Service Agreement) that sets the rules for how your product or service can be used.
Not only does a Terms of Purchase Agreement cover how someone can use the product or service they purchase, but it also should cover policies that are a part of the purchase process, such as refunds, chargebacks or cancellations.
You’ve likely seen these types of agreements in action during your own purchases with various businesses – it’s usually a checkbox at checkout that says “I agree to these Terms and Conditions…”
When users click that box, it means they are actively agreeing to the terms your business has set up. That little checkbox is called a “clickwrap” in the legal world and is the exact way that I advise business owners to display their terms.
When you set your terms as a clickwrap (NOT a browsewrap), your agreements are more enforceable if any legal action is ever needed!
When it comes to implementing Terms of Purchase for your online business, you want to make sure you’re including all of the applicable clauses to fully protect yourself.
Sometimes business owners aren’t sure what to include, so I’ve combined it all for you with THIS template!
A Legally Compliant Website Doesn’t Have To Be Boring
And there ya have it – the 5 core components to having a legally compliant website.
By now you might be thinking… “Amber – if my website needs alllll of that, how in the world can I keep it cute?!”
And I hear you! I also want my website to be aesthetically pleasing, so that my audience not only has a great (and legal) customer experience, but so they also find it attention getting along the way.
That’s the very reason that I use Oregon Lane for all things website!
Oregon Lane Studio was created by brand stylist and Showit website designer, Tara, who’s on a mission to help business owners like you spark purposeful connection with strategic brands and websites.
When I first started The Boutique Lawyer, I’ll admit I was kind of scared – after all, business owners rarely jump for joy when they think about all of the legal things that go into business.
I wanted to be seen as a COOL lawyer and Tara helped make that happen, not only with her website template customization services (that I used and LOVE), but also with her pretty, easy, and LEGAL website templates.
To this day, I still call on Tara for website edits and updates because I know I can count on her to keep things cool, but also stay true to what I do.
And if you’re curious what a ShowIt site looks like in action, peep mine here!
P.S. This blog post contains affiliate links, but I only ever recommend products or services that I love and use myself!