Many small business owners probably remember when websites were not a thing. Do you remember the blocky, green-screened computers? Or the printers that used that printer paper with the tear-away sides, you know, the ones with the holes? If you have not seen those printers, you might be in luck the next time you are in an airport terminal waiting for your flight. I recently saw one there! The point is that we have come a long way (except, perhaps, for airport terminals…) since the first home computers and printers started becoming a normal part of our life.
Why Businesses Might Have a Website
Allow me to illustrate some general reasons why businesses may have a website. I recently moved to a new city and did an internet search for a new dentist nearby. The search resulted in a list of dental offices, and I clicked through to look at their websites to help me decide where to go. As recently as 15 years ago, dentists paid thousands for an ad in the phone book! Now businesses are searchable on the internet and can display a robust website that markets the business’s services. Sophisticated website analytics track customer activity to provide data. Savvy business owners can use it to tailor products, layouts, and marketing to attract higher sales.
In addition, online sales have become a major part of many business websites. For some, this is the business. For example, COVID made ordering food for pickup and delivery a new convenience. To order food from a mobile device, you must enter your name, address, phone number, and payment card information as part of the process. In our contemporary market, customers go through this same process for everything from diapers to furniture, often delivering it to their doorstep without ever having to step outside the comfort of their homes. How fantastic is that?!
So, What’s the Downside to Websites?
Terms and Conditions
Are the Terms Noticeable?
An important consideration for terms and conditions is whether they are clear and conspicuous for users. Terms and conditions are typically at the bottom of a website. They often show up when users create an account on the website, make a purchase from the website, or move between different website pages. When a court decides whether to uphold the business’s terms, it will look for evidence that the terms are reasonably noticeable so that the customer will be on notice for them. For example, one court found that since the customer “had to click a few times that she agreed to the terms and conditions,” it was sufficiently noticeable.
Adding a Hyperlink With Different Font Could Help
In another case, another court considered a hyperlink to determine whether it was sufficiently conspicuous. Since the hyperlink had a different type of font from other words and letters, along with being in boldface font, as well as a clear contrast between the colors of the letters and background, the court determined that it was clear and conspicuous to the customer. The court found this despite the font for the hyperlink being smaller than other letters on the website.
Typically included in the terms and conditions, a disclaimer is where you shield yourself from legal liability. It serves as a notice to all website users of the limitation of your liability for the outcome of the use of your website. It protects you in case some of your content is not accurate which causes harm to an individual. They protect you in the case of the transmission of a virus through your website. A disclaimer says that if someone comes to your site, they do it on their own accord, and your liability will be waived to a certain extent.
Decide Early How You Will Use Visitor’s Information
Don’t DIY, Have a Lawyer Looks Things Over
A quick search on Google will pull up stock website disclaimers, terms and conditions, and privacy policies. While this might be a good start, you must have a lawyer work with you to ensure you do this right. Make sure that it applies to your particular business and situation. Make sure there is no confusion about what the terms mean for you and visitors to your site.
Here Are 5 Decisions To Start With
- What privileges, rights, and responsibilities visitors to your website should have?
- What intellectual property do you have on your website that you would want to be protected?
- How you will use data about customers’ personal information.
- The state you prefer for potential litigation.
- Whether you will limit liability with potential claims.