This is a question regarding licensing, and more specifically, license agreements.

It has become quite evident that license agreements are a big part of software, as they are the legal barrier between the company and the user, which is why it is very important that all users be asked to at least read the agreement.

I myself know that they are very long and generally not an enjoyable read, but I am wondering why companies freely allow their users past this step of setting up a product without any enforced reading of the EULA.

Is it because it is a hassle, or the company's legal standing?

  • 5
    this is ultimately a legal and business risk issue rather than a UX issue. While UX can improve the license presentation, the decision to allow users to skip the license is not a UX matter
    – tohster
    Apr 6 '15 at 3:18
  • Because you don't actually care whether they read the license agreement or not - the agreement gives you legal protection, and when the user says they read it (by checking the "I agree" checkbox) you get that legal protection - whether the user genuinely read it or not doesn't matter.
    – user42730
    Apr 8 '15 at 13:01

EULAs are a legal obligation that does not benefit the user, but rather provides legal protection for the maker of the software you're interacting with. A EULA is never for the benefit of the user.

EULAs are always at the start of your interaction with a user, which means a bad EULA experience is going to give your user a bad first impression.

Now the real problem is how do you make sure the person reads the EULA. I've seen all of these bad attempts at solving this problem over the years and I'll try to describe some of the worst one's I've encontered.

With all of these, you have to consider the possibility that the user has already read the EULA. Such as an IT professional deploying software across many machines without automated deployment tools (which some EULAs prevent the use of).

A long page that needs to be scrolled through

The person can simply scroll to the bottom very quickly.

A long page with a timer

Not everyone reads at the same rate, some users may have genuinely read the page and have to wait out the timer before using the software.

A person can also just walk away and return when the timer is out.

X pages that all need to be read

A person can click through all the pages in a quick order.

A hidden password in the EULA necessary for proceeding

Requires the person to realize that the random word that doesn't belong in the text of the EULA is going to be relevant after the process.

People will post the keyword online, for when people angrily google that they can't find the keyword in the EULA.

It also adds random noise that potentially has negative implications on the legal integrity of the document.

A multiple choice questionnaire on the EULA

EULAs are generally written in legalese, and many people can't interpret it. Asking them to understand it effectively then answer questions about it makes it likely a person will get the wrong idea and be unable to proceed.

In short, if you care about user experience you shouldn't blindly listen to your legal department.


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