Is Your Website Legal?
Creating a website has become super easy. Website builders, drag and drop themes, 3rd party solutions like Wix. Without ever learning a single line of code, you can create a basic website in a few hours.
(Disclaimer, as website developers we will tell you that there is a difference between a website and a tool that is an integral part of your business strategy).
But creating a site comes with rules and regulations. Some are standard across industries and platforms and some are specific to what your business is and where you conduct it. Know these rules – or find someone who does – to keep yourself out of hot water.
Get busted for breaking any of the rules and you could be in for big trouble. Make sure you know all of the website legal requirements in your “space” before you get started.
Have a terms and conditions document
A T&C statement may not be required by law, but it’s still a smart thing to include.
A well written T&C statement can limit your liability should a customer take you to court, as well as protect your rights to the content contained in your website.
Don’t forget the cookies policy
Are you an ecommerce site
If you have an ecommerce site (or even if you sell products on your website) know the consumer protection laws and e-commerce regulations in the jurisdictions that your product/service is available as they differ at the country, state, and even municipal level.
And please, please, please have a refund policy!
And then there is accessibility & compliance standards
Discrimination against people with disabilities is prohibited by law, but most website owners don’t realise how the law may affect their websites.
I won’t go into details as this could be a blog post unto itself. Educate yourself on the applicable laws that apply to you … and frankly, even if there isn’t a law in your area consider that everyone has a right to access your content in the way that works best for them.
What about the software that you use
You use software on your website (WordPress, plugins, themes etc.) that is licensed in one way, shape or form. Ensure that you understand and follow the terms of those licenses.
This is the most common way website owners get into trouble.
Are your products or services geared to minors? Of are they adult only?
There is legislation for that too. Know it. Embrace it. Follow it.
Do you sell, teach, or endorse anything wellness or medical related
There are regulations and legislation that will apply to you. If you sell/ship across borders there will be additional legal requirements. Get expert advice.
Do you sell electrical or electronic equipment online?
There may be regulations that apply to you – check them out.
Other legal requirements to consider
If you have user-generated content (for example, blog posts created by others) make sure that it is original, not defamatory, and that it is clear who owns the content (you or the author). There are an increasing number of instances where a website owner was held responsible for the content posted by others. Have a clear contract with those who write on your behalf and act quickly if a complaint is filed.
Do you use photos on your website (silly question, who doesn’t)? Then you will want to make sure that you have the rights (like a license) to use that image. If your images come from a supplier (if you are selling their products/services online) make sure you have something that states how, where, and for how long you can use that image.
Do You Get Where We Are Going Here?
We are not trying to scare you off. We just want to you to be protected in our increasingly prescribed, legislated, and litigious world .
And here is our own little bit of CYA …
This list is in no way an exhaustive or complete statement of all requirements and provisions
that might be applicable to you, your business, and your website.
Please consult a legal expert before drafting and adopting a policy or statement.