Before you press publish on your website, you might be forgetting an essential element.
That’s right. I’m talking about the legal side of your website and business.
Cue the groans. I get it!
Understanding what you legally need in order to properly run your business can feel downright overwhelming and daunting at times. It helps to have a lawyer on your side who can advise you on the things you need to make your website legit.
As a disclaimer, I am NOT that lawyer, so please don’t take any of this blog post content as professional legal advice.
I’m simply a website designer who wants to give you some pointers after working with entrepreneurs for years. I know what things you need in order to successfully launch your website from a legal perspective, so that’s what I’ll be sharing today.
I also live in New York so please note that legal requirements vary from state to state, not to mention how different policies can be in countries outside of the U.S. Because of this, it’s best to meet with a professional lawyer that’s practicing in your local area so they can answer any questions you may have.
Okay, now that we have the disclaimers out of the way, let’s talk about the four things your website needs to be legal.
Terms & Conditions
When offering services, it’s common for both parties to sign a contract that acts as a legal agreement for the partnership.
The terms and conditions page on your website is similar to that agreement but it’s between you and your website visitors. Your website visitors don’t have to sign the agreement, of course, but by continuing to browse your website, they essentially consent to your terms and conditions.
Terms and conditions are especially important if you are selling digital or physical products directly from your website. This tells your audience everything they need to know before confidently making a purchase from you.
When someone reads through your terms and conditions, they’ll notice that it outlines what conduct you expect from visitors and what they can expect from you.
For example, you can include a comment policy within your terms and conditions that states what kind of comments are allowed and what language is banned from your website. Stating these boundaries upfront creates a safe, enjoyable space for every visitor who comes to your website.
You could pay a lawyer to create a custom terms and conditions page for you (which can get spendy!), but if you’re looking for a cost-effective solution that’s still legal, I recommend purchasing a terms and conditions template from The Legal Paige.
She has separate templates for photographers, wedding vendors, online coaches, educators, and entrepreneurs. No matter what industry you’re in, you can find one that will work for you.
Paige is a client of mine and I refer SO many people to her when they’re looking to include the right legal information for their website.
Her templates are very easy to personalize to your website and give you everything you need to get started. Use the code “Sarah” to get 10% off this template and any other template in her shop!
Nearly all websites are collecting visitor information of some kind.
This can include someone who:
- Signs up for your email list
- Fills out a contact form, survey, etc.
- Pays on your website for a product or service
They are bundled together so it’s like you get two for the price of one.
No matter if you offer services or products through your website, you’ll want to have a public refund policy on your website. When people are making an online purchase, especially if it’s the first time they’re shopping with your company, they’ll want to read about your refund policy.
A refund policy will clearly outline how you process refunds and if they’re offered to customers after a certain amount of time. This protects your profits as a business owner as well as protecting your customers so they can make an informed purchase.
Without a refund policy on your website, potential customers won’t know what to expect if they aren’t satisfied with what they bought. This could put a bad taste in their mouth after they’ve purchased a product they aren’t happy with. Also, transparency is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of lawsuits.
Every business offers a completely unique refund policy.
For example, if you’re selling online courses, you could offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee claim that says your students can get a full refund after 14 days if they aren’t satisfied with your course. Of course, the number of days or refund amount will depend on your company’s guidelines, but this helps to illustrate the importance of having a refund policy.
In addition to your website, you might also want to include this refund policy in your contracts if you’re a service provider. That way, you keep all of the legal language you need around refunds in the main agreement.
You might have noticed that some service providers require a non-refundable deposit when booking new projects. This is a part of their refund policy and must be clearly outlined in their contracts and website. Others might say that they include a partial refund after certain checkpoints in the client process.
Talk with a legal professional or your CPA for guidance on what your company’s refund policy should be. Here’s more information on choosing your refund policy.
As a creative who posts your work on social media and beyond, expressing the copyright behind your original work should be incredibly important to you. Luckily, you don’t need a lawyer to complete this step.
The simplest way to get started is to put the small copyright symbol (which looks like this: ©) next to the legal name of your business. You’ll commonly see people put this in their website footer, but you can also place it in your terms and conditions page. Also, include the year your website was published.
If you want to include more information about the exact copyrights of your work or give visitors a limited license for sharing your work, look into Creative Commons. You can choose a license that fits the way you want people to share your work (if at all). This could include specific guidelines around crediting or linking to you as the creator, sharing the work only in certain places, and more.
Once you have the Creative Commons license, it can be placed on your website for others to see. This is a great idea for artists, writers, and other creatives who want to legally protect their work from being stolen while giving guidelines for how people can properly share it.
Now your website is legally protected!
In addition to creating these legal elements for your website, you may also want to invest in templates for contracts, cease and desist letters, contractor agreements, and more.
If so, The Legal Paige has everything you need. Seriously. This is not even an affiliate link – her templates are just that good, and protecting your business legally is just that important.