3 Essential Steps for Legally-Compliant & Effective Website Operation

In this post, we take a look at 3 major steps in your journey toward a legally-compliant and effective website operation: establishing a privacy policy, managing all aspects around trackers (i.e. cookies), and setting your Terms and Conditions.

The Multifaceted Nature of Website Operation

Operating a website extends beyond website building, design or content. They’re just the tip of the iceberg. Your presence online encompasses a range of components, including: security, performance optimization for responsiveness, SEO and marketing to attract visitors, content management or user engagement to keep your website fresh and relevant.

Navigating the Complex Landscape of Online Compliance

Arguably one of the most overlooked aspects of website operation is legal compliance. It can evoke images of tedious research and complex legal jargon.

Online compliance involves adhering to regulations and laws concerning data privacy, consumer protection, etc. A common example is the GDPR in the EU, that aims at protecting the personal data of people in the EU with a set of requirements on online businesses like obtaining user consent.

Making your website compliant requires not only to make sense of all the legal aspects, but the technical implementation as well. It is not a one-time task, but a continuous process of monitoring and adapting to new legal standards and practices.

However, this process doesn’t have to be daunting. With the right approach and tools, you can navigate through the compliance landscape effectively, ensuring your website operates within legal boundaries while providing a seamless user experience. Let’s see what you should do and how to easily get it off your to-do list.

Step 1: Privacy Policy

The cornerstone of data protection online is the privacy policy. It’s not just a legal requirement to meet in order to shield your business from potential legal repercussions; it’s the foundation of professionalism, trust and transparency between a website and its users.

This document serves as a transparent communication between the website owner and its visitors, detailing how personal data is collected, used, shared, and protected. It is required by various data protection laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, or California’s CCPA/CPRA in the United States.

It’s important for any website, large or small, to have a clear and comprehensive privacy policy that’s readily available for visitors to access. Displaying a link to your document in your website’s footer is a great idea.

To craft a valid privacy policy, you need to understand which requirements apply to your website, and those vary depending on your business’s and audience’s location, and the nature of the data you collect.

After that, you need to tackle the writing part. Yes, it’s a tricky one! We strongly recommend using high-quality online privacy policy generators like iubenda. You can also take a look at a generic privacy policy template, but this resource comes with limitations.

Step 2: Cookie Management

Trackers are integral to the functionality of modern websites, facilitating a customized user experience. Cookies, for instance, need to be placed on the user’s browser in order to follow their behavior or serve them personalized ads. Businesses in the EU cannot do that without meeting certain requirements, like obtaining their consent first.

As a general rule of thumb, when using cookies, it’s important to have a cookie policy in place to properly inform users, and a cookie banner that adheres to consent regulations.

cookie policy is a document that explains how your website uses cookies—small text files used to store information about visitors’ preferences and browsing sessions.

This policy should detail the types of cookies used, their purpose (e.g. user experience, functionality), storage time, user rights like opt-out. It’s common practice to combine both privacy and cookie policy into one document. You can check this off your to-do list in a flash using a professional online cookie policy generator.

cookie banner is the first point of interaction regarding data privacy for many users. It should provide a clear link to the cookie policy, give users the option to accept or reject cookies, particularly non-essential ones, empowering visitors to make informed decisions on if and how their data should be collected by the business.

Here again, don’t bother trying to figure this all out yourself. Consent Management Platforms like iubenda do all the tough work for you, from banner setup and customization to saving user consent records.

Last but not least, cookie management isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it process. Regular reviews and updates are necessary to stay up to date with changes in the law and any new services or features added to your site (which would mean updating your policy).

Step 3: Terms and Conditions

Terms and Conditions (or T&C) are not a mere formality. They offer a strong level of protection to any online business in case of certain legal disputes arising. That’s why they are always highly recommended, and sometimes mandatory in some cases, such as for e-commerce.

In a nutshell, they serve as a contract that defines the relationship between the website operator and its users, providing legal protection and setting clear rules and guidelines for website use, setting limitations of responsibility, outlining dispute resolution processes, including jurisdiction, applicable laws and more.

Creating effective Terms and Conditions requires tailoring them to the specific nature of your business, addressing key areas like intellectual property rights, user responsibilities, warranty disclaimers and more. Find out more on how to write Terms and Conditions here.

Make sure to make them easily accessible on your website in the footer next to the privacy policy link, and at other touchpoints like account signup or purchase.

Compliance Made Easy With iubenda

In the quest for maintaining a legally-compliant website, leveraging specialized tools like iubenda can be a game-changer. They simplify the process of creating, implementing, and maintaining legal documents and processes on your site.

iubenda is subscription-based and products are kept up-to-date by an expert legal team whenever the law changes to keep you compliant in the future. It also strongly focuses on the effectiveness and performance of your site, respecting UX, loading times and more, for a successful online presence.

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A heavy gamer, there's nothing that Faith loves more than spending an evening playing gacha games. When not reviewing and testing new games, you can usually find her reading fantasy novels or watching dystopian thrillers on Netflix.

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