How to Write Your Site’s Policies

By Niklas Nordlof on Thursday, December 25, 2014

Writing your site’s policies might not be the most exciting part of setting up your site, but they tell your customers what to expect and they can protect you in case of a legal dispute.

In this article, I’ll talk about how to write your:

  • Privacy policy
  • Return policy
  • Terms & conditions

Privacy policy

Your privacy policy explains to customers what information you'll be collecting and what its used for. 

Is this necessary?

Depending on what country you’re based in, you may be legally required to provide a privacy policy and to follow certain guidelines. The Wikipedia article on Privacy Policies will give you a decent starting point. 

Include information like

  • What's collected
  • What you'll do with the info
  • If you plan to share the information with anyone else

Don't use legalese

Use plain English that doesn't require special legal training to properly decipher. Keep the tone friendly—like the rest of your site. And use headings so it's easy to read.

Sample privacy policy

Check out Moboom's privacy policy for an example.

Return policy

If you sell anything, you need a return policy. Honestly, most people won’t read your privacy policy or terms and conditions. But if your customers need to return something, they will read your return policy.

Here are a few details to keep in mind:

  • Keep it friendly. Your customers may decide to purchase or not based your return policy, so don't turn them off with unfriendly or strict text.
  • Set a length. How long do people have to return a product? Two weeks? A month? 365 days? A longer return period is a great selling point, but it makes accounting tough.
  • Who pays for shipping? Will you send customers a prepaid shipping label or do they handle the shipping?
  • Reasons for return. Do you accept returns for any reason? If so, mention that here.
  • How do people initiate a return? Does a customer send you an email or call a number? Explain how to return a product here.

Your return policy probably has more to it than the previous bullet points discuss, so make sure everything is explained here. Otherwise, your customers might feel confused or lied to—even though that wasn't your intention.

Terms and conditions

Your terms and conditions are designed to protect you from misunderstandings about what services your site provides and how you intend it to be used. 

Set the tone

These are legally binding, so the tone should be professional, but they should also be clear and easy to understand. While most of your customers probably won't read these, make them readable for the folks who do want to know what they're agreeing to.

Layout your policies and procedures

Explain what services you provide and what your policies and procedures are surrounding these services. For example, if you're selling physical products that will be delivered by a third party, explain that you're not fully responsible for various aspects of the delivery—like late delivery and condition of the goods.

Explain what you will do (or who's responsible—you or the customer) in various situations—like if a shipping address is incorrect.

Use headings to make it scannable

Separate each section with a heading so people can skim through the text. Also, put the most important information at the top (like payment and shipping terms), so people will see that first.

Check out similar companies

If you need help getting started, check out what similar websites include in their terms and conditions. Here are Moboom's Terms and Conditions.

Get a lawyer

To avoid legal issues down the road, ask a lawyer to review what you wrote. In the unfortunate event that you have a legal dispute with a customer, your terms and conditions will come up. So have a lawyer make sure that everything is legally clear.

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