I have a register form on my website which currently has text just above the submit button as such By signing up you agree to our Terms of Service (Notice - Terms of Service is underlined and links to the terms)

I feel that this may possibly be deceiving however it is more convenient for users then having a checkbox.

So the ultimate question is, text or checkbox?

  • 1
    This is actually a legal question (opt in vs. opt out). Your client/company may already have a stance on this.
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 16:46
  • This is my own website, so I have no stance on this yet.
    – Pav Sidhu
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 16:49
  • If you have a TOS on your site, you should have a stance on it. Do you have a lawyer helping with the TOS? What is the TOS? Context is going to be really important here.
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 16:51
  • I'm creating this website alone (and I'm a teenager) so I have no lawyer to help. I used automattic's terms of conditions and edited it to fit my website as they allow others to use it for their own needs for free.
    – Pav Sidhu
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 16:55
  • Well, a TOS is a legal contract. So you likely shouldn't be using one unless you are fully aware of the legal ramifications of what is in it. To answer your specific question, I'd say: If the TOS are relatively benign, use just text. If the TOS is complex and has real ramifications for the end users, make sure you encourage them to read them in any way you can and a checkbox (opt-in) would help with that.
    – DA01
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 16:57

1 Answer 1


Strictly speaking, from a UX perspective, it is easier to click a button than to check a box AND click a button.

Whether it is easier/more engaging to just display the text, or to require the user to check a box, is a secondary question here. The more important question is whether there is anything important in the TOS that they need to know before agreeing.

Try to anticipate what parts of the TOS are most relevant to your users, and call attention to them. Think of how most mobile app updates will recap what permissions the app has. This is separate from the TOS, but is displayed prominently and regularly because it is likely to be important.

Are there certain restrictions or conditions on the use of your site? Perhaps pull those out as bullet points.

Also, it's worth keeping in mind that TOS are in a legal grey area. There is a judicial precedent that, because it is unreasonable for an individual to read ALL of the TOS they might encounter (because some of them are ridiculously long), the federal stance is not to prosecute minor violations. So just because you get people to read/agree to a TOS doesn't mean you'll have any control over what they do. This brings us back to DA01's question: why do you really need a TOS?

  • Great answer. I'm have terms of service as I'm collecting users information, such as full name, email, location etc, I'm using advertisements with Google AdSense and lastly because there is a level of user to user interaction so I must state I am not responsible for their content.
    – Pav Sidhu
    Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 17:53
  • 1
    That makes sense then. As long as you can make it clear to the user that that is what the TOS represents, do whatever is easiest AND fulfills any legal requirements. Some quick googling suggests that there are no universal legal requirements for this, but that a dedicated button to accept is a good idea. Commented Aug 10, 2015 at 18:01
  • I guess I should a checkbox for accepting the TOS then, thanks.
    – Pav Sidhu
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 0:48
  • @PhillipQuintero You wrote: "Speaking strictly from a UX perspective." What if the UX perspective is a measure of how clearly the user has understood, rather than how easily the user clicked through? I wonder if the ethical thing wouldn't be to require a separate click: "I agree to the terms of service, including about my responsibility for the content I post, how the site uses my data, and more." I bet this wouldn't convert as well, but sooner or later there'll be a court case that decides getting a user to click a generic check box doesn't constitute obtaining informed consent. :o
    – JeromeR
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 1:57
  • 1
    @JeromeR, agree completely. Pav needs to make sure the user understands as clearly as possible what they are agreeing to before devoting time towards making it easier to do so. I would argue that a check-box is not going to help with this unless it is coupled with some kind of summary or paraphrasing of the typically long and complicated language used in a TOS. Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 14:25

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