There’s a lot to think about when you’re building a website—design, functionality, content, marketing and more. There are a few elements your web developer might not think of but your lawyer will.

Suzanne D. Meehle

Suzanne D. Meehle

I recently had the opportunity to talk with small business attorney Suzanne D. Meehle about how to make sure your website meets all the necessary legal and general business best practices. In our conversation, she suggested including these four documents on your website:

1. Privacy policy. If you collect information from your site’s visitors—even if it’s just names and email addresses—you should have a policy in place to safeguard that data and let your users know what that policy is.

2. Terms of use. Your terms of use statement tells users what they can and can’t do on your site and how you will resolve disputes.

3. Disclaimers. You can’t disclaim all liability, but if you’re selling a product or service that has a warranty associated with it, or if you offer advice or even links to other sites, include appropriate and clearly-stated disclaimers on your website.

4. Copyright policy. If you allow others to post information on your site, including comments on your blog and information on discussion boards, you should have a copyright policy that explains what may and may not be shared and how you will address copyright infringement.

The content of each of these documents will vary depending on your type of business. So how do you create them?

Even as Meehle suggests hiring a lawyer to do it, she recognizes that’s not economically feasible for many small business owners. If you can’t afford to pay an attorney to write these documents, draft them yourself (you can find plenty of templates online) and have your lawyer review them before you post them.

Meehle stresses that it’s not enough to simply have these documents on your site—you must follow and enforce them. If you are using a template or language that you found on another site, be sure you understand what it says and that you are actually doing what the document claims.

“This is your policy. You’re saying, ‘My company will do this.’ You’re making promises to the world,” Meele says. If you violate your own policy, whether it was because you didn’t completely understand it or for another reason, you’ll be held responsible.

Is Your Website Legal?Suzanne D. Meehle shared much more great information that’s in the Conversations ebook: Is Your Website Legal? How To Be Sure Your Website Won’t Get You Sued, Shut Down or in Other Trouble.

Available for immediate download; just $2.99.

Click/tap here for Amazon Kindle version.

Click/tap here for iTunes iBook version.


Join the conversation. Share your thoughts on website-related legal issues below.

Jacquelyn Lynn
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