As opposed to websites where A user signs up and can be concerned about their privacy (i.e. Instagram, etc). What have case studies shown to motivate a user to look through a website's privacy policy?

In practice this is likely just for legal compliance for a company to post it.

But what would motivate someone to browse through a Privacy Policy, And are there specific things that we should make easier to find? Not many people are curious enough to browse through the privacy policy of every website that they visit, regardless as designers how can we provide the best user experience for someone looking through this document?

When I need to code this, I am usually just given a legal document in word format and standard practice is to just add HTML structure to the content and place it on a separate link. But is that really doing our clients a disservice, why distract the user by making them click around when they might just be curious about something?

For example if the site collects emails, I should not have to read the Privacy Policy to see what they will do with it. Maybe it's lazy but I am happy with the witty "we hate spam" message under the email signup form.

  • 2
    The privacy policy usually has to do with the data the web site collects, saves and shares with other entities--not privacy between members of the site. To improve the UX of a privacy policy, the best bet is to not let the Lawyers write it, but actual UX-centric copywriters.
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 0:57
  • @DA01 I am wondering if you mean to have them write it, but have the lawyers approve the final copy?
    – JGallardo
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 2:33
  • 3
    In terms of UX, lawyers should be burned at the stake. But we're typically not given that authority within the constructs of the corporation. So, yea, I'm saying have human copywriters work with the lawyers to write something that isn't 40 pages long and full of legal doublespeak. ;)
    – DA01
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 2:43

2 Answers 2


UX studies are almost always about testing things that we either want people to do, or things that we don't want them to do. It is rarely about testing whether they do something that we don't care about from a UX perspective. So it is highly unlikely that you will find a UX study on this.

You need to remember that besides just treating your customers well, a privacy policy is really just a legal shield that limits your legal liability for things that you have informed your customers of, and which they have agreed to.

Yes, you should make your privacy policy as readable as possible (Stack Exchange has a good example of a privacy policy), and have a good one that protects your customers' privacy. But it isn't your goal to get them to read it. As long as it is easy to find, you're okay.

Adding human speak to your site to help talk about privacy where it is a concern, is a different issue. You should have it, but you will still always need a privacy policy. In many parts of the world it is a legal requirement.

  • I agree with everything you said. The intent of my question, however, was to see who and why looks at those documents. Based on their motivation, we can then implement the best experience for them. For example is their biggest concern is, "will this new social network use my kids pictures in their marketing materials." Or will they easily give out my private messages to law-enforcement professionals without proper warrant, etc.
    – JGallardo
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 22:44

Personally, I don't look through a website's privacy policy unless I upload my own content (i.e. pictures, videos, etc) on the site.

I've always found private policies pages to be unfriendly in nature. Just like most things, there are specific bits of information most users would want to know first (if they sell your information, share it with the public, use your content for ads, etc). However, I hate going through piles of legal jargon to find it.

I believe the privacy policy page would benefit by having a quick links navigation or quick summaries of what most users would want to know.

Stack Exchange has a pretty good example of a user friendly Privacy Policy page. A sense of humor never hurts either.

  • "The lawyers say I have to remind you again that you really need to read the long version on the right. Which hurts my feelings a little, but is still probably good advice." haha, as funny as it is, it definitely breaks the ice between user and organization. The layout that they have is very clean and well organized.
    – JGallardo
    Commented Jan 25, 2013 at 2:31

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