As a business owner, you are ultimately responsible for every aspect of your business, from its success, how ethical it is, and also that it is legal and above board. Below, we will cover what you must include, ensuring your website is legal.
*Disclaimer – this is about making your website legal. Depending on your business, you may have other specific legal requirements that may not be included here. If you are unsure, always get advice from a legal professional.
What you're about to read
This information doesn’t need to be on every page, but you do need to ensure the registered information on the identity of your business can be easily found.
Either with your Privacy notice or as part of an About Us or Contact Us page works well. Placing some of this information on the footer section of your pages as well will be useful to visitors on your site, as well as to search engines:
The key points that need to be covered are:
- Name of your company (as it is registered)
- Registered company number (if it’s registered)
- Who you are registered with (such as Companies House)
- Address details (this is the address of the business, not necessarily your address)
- Contact details (email address at a minimum)
- VAT number (if applicable)
- Trade body details
- Details of any regulators you are subject to and your registration number (such as FCA)
- A non-electronic way of getting in touch with your company (postal address)
Websites now capture all kinds of data from their visitors, but in order to keep yours legal, you need 3 things to allow your visitors to understand what info you collect, and why. What you need are:
- A Privacy Notice – This is what information you are collecting and how you will use it
- A Usage Disclaimer – This explains your responsibility for the website, and your liability for how it and any information captured is used.
This must all be easily found and accessible on your website. It also ties in closely with GDPR, which is a fairly meaty subject on its own! Listen to a Facebook Live I did about GDPR and what it means for your website just before GDPR came into effect in May 2018.
Cookies and Consent
Not the delicious chocolate chip filled kind, but small files that are stored on a user’s computer. You need to be clear on what they are, why you use them, and also give your visitors the option to accept or refuse their placement on your visitor’s computers. Many websites use a pop up when people land on their page giving them an option, and the information needs to be easily accessible also. Putting this with your privacy notice is generally a good idea. You can read more about GDPR and cookies on your website.
Selling Products and Services Online
If you use your website for sales, then you also need the following information:
- Terms and conditions of use
- Delivery, returns and refunds policy
Again, this needs to be easily found, such as a link to a page found on the footer of your website.
Be sure that if you are using images which have not been created by you, that you have the correct permissions to use them.
I have seen clients stung with large fines for infringing copyright of images which had been lifted from the likes of Google Images. Be sure that if you’re using images which aren’t yours, you’re using royalty free imagery and crediting it where necessary.
You can find a resource of free stock image libraries here.
The information laid out above is a good starting point of making your website legal, and covers the basics that all sites must have. As mentioned above, your business may have a specific regulation that needs to be followed that is unique to your industry.
Therefore, I would also recommend having a legal expert check over your site to ensure you are compliant in every area you need to be.