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I have a search screen I've created. I want the design to be very simplistic (google/amazon style) and I feel like I've achieved that.

The problem now is I've been asked to attach a visible disclaimer on the page (which is all the 'Note:lorem ipsum and down' text at the bottom of the presented screenshot. It must be visible, but it ruins the whole simplicity of the screen and makes it very busy and distracting to the eyes. Is there any recommended elegant ways of displaying this message, whether it be font color or a page layout change or anything to that nature that can help?

Screenshot here: Screenshot

Here's an updated attempt: Screenshot2

I changed the background color of the 'Note' and added an icon to add some contrast. Not sure if it improves the overall flow or not. Still looking for some options.

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Well first you get your legal team. Then you get a baseball bat. Then... –  Ben Brocka Mar 29 '12 at 15:11
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Does this really need to be on the main page? Can't you have a terms & conditions link at the bottom that leads to the main disclaimer? I frequently see "Usage of this site means you agree to the Terms & Conditions" with T&Cs being a link. –  Xiaofu Mar 29 '12 at 15:14
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Honestly I'd trust your site a lot less upon seeing that disclaimer. I'm suddenly wondering what evil crap you're doing that you need to include a disclaimer on the front page... –  Ben Brocka Mar 29 '12 at 15:18
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@mint If it won't get you into trouble you could always go and have a chat with Legal yourself (if you have them) to see if it's an acceptable solution. Can you at least ask the boss for more specific justification beyond the spurious 'avoid a bunch of phone calls'? :) Point them to some major sites that do the T&Cs link. –  Xiaofu Mar 29 '12 at 15:21
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The second option may make the designer in you happy, but it's even a bigger distraction to the user. Also, it's not a fair comparison because you removed 40% of the text compared to the first mockup –  Jung Lee Mar 29 '12 at 16:13

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

This is a classic problem where different departments need to have their say on the deliverable. In this case Usability professional v/s Legal professional. There is the need for the user and there is a need for legal. Now legal department have the obligation to see too that the company implement government laws. From the question, I can't say if this is the case, but surely there must be some reason for the disclaimer to be present on the page. They didn't make this up by themselves, did they?

From a usability perspective the design suggested (probably from legal department) is truly awful. But this is our field, not legal. Legal only have a functional requirement saying "the disclaimer must be on this page". Not how, not where nor the design of the disclaimer. This is where we as professionals need to make the best of the situation and deal with the requirement.

We can always argue that the design suggestion from legal is bad, and prove it. It's what we do on a daily basis. As well as they can argue why this disclaimer needs to be on this page. The compromise, in this case, would be a disclaimer that is less prominent than those suggested above.

We can work with a sublime color, move the content further down on the page, make the font size smaller, draw a horizontal rule above the disclaimer and by this increase white space of what is important on this page: the textbox and the button. By this legal requirement are met and user experience is not all that bad.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

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This design route may actually provide a benefit: Having the disclaimer so obviously at the base of the page it provides a visual anchor to the user that the page is complete, there is no more content to come and the page will not be 'loading' any more. Even Google has something in the footer of their page, possibly for this reason. –  JonW Mar 30 '12 at 8:49
    
@JonW That's true. Didn't think of it that way though, but (after checking Google) they do use this as well. Thanx for the heads up, Jon! –  Benny Skogberg MCSA Mar 30 '12 at 9:18
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@BennySkogberg Great idea Benny, I'll try this out and see how it works and what they think of it. –  mint Mar 30 '12 at 13:40
    
@mint Thanx! Remember when you talk to Legal that your concerne is the User Experience. Good luck! –  Benny Skogberg MCSA Mar 31 '12 at 5:11

Like Oil and Water, UX and Legal are incompatible. Either your UX team has the power to influence how legal is implemented, or you don't.

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This does not really answer the question –  TomvB Mar 30 '12 at 9:36
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A valid remark but not an answer to the question. –  Bart Gijssens Mar 30 '12 at 11:23

I agree with Ben's comment. (not the baseball bat one lol...)

If he's really worried about liability, then he's better off putting that disclaimer on the top of search result page, instead of home page. (though i would still put the disclaimer link on the footer on the home page as per Xiaofu's comment)

By users simply loading the home page of your site, I fail to see how you are entering into a contract with them, unless you are collecting information from them without consent.

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Yeah, I guess the thing is I don't feel like they'll listen to my advice. They'll just say 'trust me, I've been doing this for years' or something that nature. I'm trying to take what I currently have and make it more presentable-- I'm thinking removing it all together is not on option. –  mint Mar 29 '12 at 15:34
    
I feel your pain. Legals need to approve everything where I work. Can you vertical align to the bottom of the page, and make the width 100%? Also, address is typically in 1 line if you put them in a footer. –  Jung Lee Mar 29 '12 at 15:42
    
I don't agree. Showing the disclaimer on the search results page, means that you show the disclaimer of the service after you have used he service. –  Bart Gijssens Mar 30 '12 at 8:49
    
@BartGijssens: It depends on specifically what you are disclaiming. If you're disclaiming guarantees on the accuracy of the result, then it in fact belongs on the result page. ("Results above are gathered using automated techniques over an extended period of time. ACME Inc does not guarantee that the results were valid at any time since they were obtained.") –  MSalters Apr 2 '12 at 15:00

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