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My clients needs to put Terms of Conditions and a Privacy Policy on their site. I know little about this area and I am wondering if there are any design specific requirements (legal?) that I need to know about.

  • What are the general requirements for linking to Terms and Conditions?
    • Can I hide it behind a link in a dropdown?
  • What are the general requirements for displaying the Terms and Conditions?
    • Can I have a textbox of any size or do I have to show a certain amount of text, size of text, etc?

My online searches for this has only turned up answers for how to write these documents, I'm lucky enough that the clients lawyers do this for us.

(If there are legal requirements, this would be for the US only)

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You have to make sure that the T&C & Privacy Policy are visible and legible. I would NOT recommend hiding it in a dropdown. Imagine trying to defend yourself that a user would "obviously" know that the T&C were hidden somewhere. –  Chris N. Feb 11 '13 at 19:38
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Hiding your T&C behind a dropdown is probably very dangerous, since a user could legitimately claim that they never saw the T&C.Check out what happened to Zappos: http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2012/10/how_zappos_user.htm .

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For anyone reading this thread later I would recommend this article. It has two key points: Don't use browserwraps (contracts with no explicit agreement is not a contract according to the court), but instead use clickthroughs. Make the user check a box or press a button in agreement of the terms. If you don't have a natural way to have users agree to T&C's then question why you would use them at all. –  JeroenEijkhof Feb 11 '13 at 20:36
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As Brian pointed out hiding your terms and conditions can lead to trouble. I would recommend putting in the footer since that seems to be a standard place for the terms and conditions to be shown while designing sites.

With regards to showing the terms and conditions, I would recommend directly linking the terms and condition link to the T&C page so that users can pursue it as needed. However if you plan to show it in a popup for some reason, here are some suggested best practices as mentioned in this article :

  1. Summarized text that is more readable Formatting for ease of reading or scanning online (small chunks, spacing, numbering)
  2. Tools like progress indicator, print and download, clearly visually identified
  3. A summary (of the summary) of the terms that the user is agreeing to

Good examples of that are :

enter image description here

enter image description here

I also recommend looking at this question How to design usable web site terms & conditions? for additional inputs.

I also recommend looking at this article Terms and Conditions: A Snapshot of Confusion for additional inputs

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These may be nice examples, but just having to hit a "Next" button is often not considered to amount to "explicit agreement". That's why you see "Agree" buttons, though if only the text changes people can argue they still were in the next-next-next flow. Best option legal-wise is to have an "I agree" checkbox and only enable the next/agree button when the checkbox has been explicitely checked by the user. –  Marjan Venema Feb 12 '13 at 7:22
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The requirements for Terms and Conditions as well as for your Privacy Policy are primarily a legal question and not a design question. There are things that you should be aware of design wise, but they are not requirements.

There are a number of good questions already on the UX side of design requirements on this site, so I won't try to duplicate them here. The key points to remember are:

  • Make sure that they are easy to find, and that you have a clear link to them on your home page.
  • Even though you have to use legalese to write them in, you should have a more human explanation to accomplish this.
  • Simply having the policies does not mean that someone has to keep to them if they have to explicitly agreed to them. That means checking a box or pressing a button, not simply a statement that by signing up they are agreeing to them.
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