9 Must-Have Legal Pages for Any WordPress Website
When creating a website, we typically focus on content strategy, design, and all those things that directly influence the website’s success. Creating legal pages for websites is usually not so exciting but demands just as much attention. It’s easy to fall into the trap of considering legal pages as a pure formality, and this trap can lead to serious problems. Sloppy legal pages are like a time bomb on your website, you would be surprised how easily you can end up with a lawsuit or worse just because you were not informed about the rules.
In this article, we will go through all the must-have legal pages for any kind of WordPress website. Before we dive into the topic, let’s just make sure you understand why these pages are so important.
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The simplest answer to why you need legal pages on your WordPress website is – to avoid costly lawsuits and hefty fines. However unlikely it may seem to you that you could end up in court for something you publish or fail to publish on your website, it is a real possibility and nowadays not even a rare case.
Generally speaking, the things you need to take into serious consideration are compliance with the law, your personal liability for the content you share, the protection of your intellectual rights, user privacy, and your website rules. There are certain types of legal pages for websites that help prevent legal breaches in these fields and/or help you mitigate the consequences of breaches.
For example, let’s say you are sharing weight loss tips on your website. You don’t want to get sued by someone who feels deceived because following your advice did not help them lose any weight. This kind of situation can be avoided simply by having a legal disclaimer. Another scenario may include someone exploiting your content on another website under their name without any consequences unless you have a proper Copyright Information page in place.
If you run a small blog or a website that does not imply too much interaction with visitors, you may believe that your website doesn’t collect personal information to an extent that could possibly cause a problem. That is a dangerously misleading belief as regardless of your website’s size and scope, the fact is every type of website collects plenty of personal information about its users through newsletter subscription, sales, SEO tools, Google Analytics, and in many other common ways.
Although there are plenty of disclaimer templates to use, it is best to tailor it to match your specific niche and be as precise as possible. If, for example, you are running a health blog, you may need a medical disclaimer that could state that the information you share is not a replacement for therapy or medical advice of any kind. In case you are earning money from your website in whatever way, the Disclaimer page is the place to let your users know that.
Apart from the fact that a disclaimer can protect you from undesired sues and allegations, it can also significantly help you foster an honest and transparent relationship with your users.
The affiliate disclosure can be included within the Disclaimer page, but if a large part of your website is about affiliate marketing, it is better to have a separate Affiliate Disclosure or Affiliate Disclaimer page. This is the page where you disclose that you are promoting specific affiliate products. It should also be explained that you get a certain amount of money as a commission each time someone buys the affiliate product following the links on your website, and clearly state that the price of the product is in no way influenced by this. All the sponsorships, brand ambassador arrangements, affiliate relationships need to be disclosed in this way as the Law on Consumer Protection prescribes it in many countries. The purpose of this page is primarily to protect the consumer, but it nevertheless protects you too.
There is no way to prevent anyone from copying your content, but there is a way to protect yourself if someone does it. That is essentially the purpose of the copyright notice. A copyright notice clearly states that all the content on your website including texts, images, logos, products, etc. is considered your intellectual property, which means it is protected by copyright and can’t be stolen, copied, reproduced, or misused in any way without legal consequences.
In case you want to allow some type of your content to be copied or used in some other way, this is also the place to state that and explain in which circumstances and under which conditions you allow such handling of your content. Though technically it can not prevent anyone from copying or stealing the content, a copyright notice with clearly stated legal consequences of content theft and misuse could prompt someone who intended to do such a thing to rethink their intention.
The comment policy can be contained on the Terms and Conditions page. But, if your website implies a lot of interaction with your users, it is highly recommendable to have a separate Comment Policy page. This policy is very important as it sets the tone of the overall communication style that you want to foster on your website and therefore has a lot of impact on your brand image and identity.
You use the comment policy to regulate the kind of comments that are allowed on the website, as well as the kind of comments that are not desirable. You also have the freedom to decide and inform your users about the type of comments that will not be tolerated at all and the type of comments that can be deleted. Moreover, you can decide who is allowed to delete comments on your website, whether it is possible to place appeals for deleted comments, and so on. This policy gives you the chance to declare what kind of communication you expect from your users in a very precise and direct manner.
In many countries, special attention is placed on laws that regulate children’s online safety. One such law is the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act or COPPA, whose purpose is to protect the privacy and personally-identifying information of children under the age of 13. This law prescribes rules on the use of data from and about children up to 13 years old and gives parents the ability to supervise and ban or approve some of the information their kids share. If your website’s target audience is kids, you need to be aware of the similar laws and regulations in your country and have an adequate policy up and running on your website. In this type of policy, you should clearly state the age limit that is required for the use of your website, explain how your website should be used, notify that parental consent is necessary for the website use, and also mention related restrictions.
The information your cookies policy needs to include is about the kind of cookies you use on your website, the kind of data they collect, their purpose, how long they will be stored in the user’s browser as well as with whom the information collected through cookies can be shared and similar.
In case you are selling any kind of products on your website, you are going to need a Refund Policy page too. This policy is often included on the Terms and Conditions page, but having it on a separate page makes it more easily accessible for customers and helps you establish a more trustworthy relationship.
In some countries, mostly in Europe, it is mandatory to offer refunds, and in some, it is up to you to decide. Whatever your decision is, you have to have it clearly stated in your refund and returns policy.
The Refund and Returns Policy page should include a time limit for accepting returns, who covers the return shipping expenses, what happens in case the goods are damaged, what is the time limit for processing returns, do you offer a refund in cash or in goods and similar details. Of course, it is in your interest to add as many details as possible so that both you and the customer know exactly what to expect in related situations.
There are tons of both premium and free policy generators and templates, but the best advice is to always at least consult a lawyer unless you can hire one to craft all the necessary policies for you. If you can’t afford a professional, make sure to get thorough information on the details your policies need to include. It is absolutely unacceptable and very risky too, to just copy a policy from a similar website. However generic these pages may seem to you, they contain important information that needs to be taken seriously. If you decide to go for templates, either free or premium, make sure to adjust them to fit your needs.
Establishing a trustful relationship with your users is one of the most important goals, no matter what type of website you run. Having neat and professionally crafted legal pages increases your credibility as a brand and makes your users feel safe, which is an absolute prerequisite for the success of any kind of blog or site. Apart from having these pages, another thing you can do to support trust is to make these pages visible and easily accessible by placing links to legal pages in your footer, sidebar, or anywhere you find adequate.