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Website Design – Why Add a Privacy Policy?

Before launching a new website, it is important to make sure that you have all the necessary content pages ready. Whilst most businesses remember to create a ‘about us’ page and a page for contact details, many forget to add a privacy policy. Depending on the type of business you operate, failing to create a privacy policy for your website could cause you a number of problems in the future. Here we will explain why it is so important to add one to your website design.

privacy policy online

Here is an example of a privacy policy.

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What is a privacy policy?

A privacy policy is a legal notice that the majority of businesses should have on their website. It’s aim is to inform website users how their personal information may be used. If you collect information from your website visitors in any way (for example using cookies) we strongly advise that you add a privacy policy to your website as soon as possible.

What should a privacy policy include?

When writing a privacy policy for your business website, it is important to make sure that it is completely unique. Taking another company’s privacy policy and using it as your own may be seen as a copyright violation, not to mention the fact that duplicate content can harm your own website’s SEO.

Writing your own privacy policy or having it written for you by an experienced professional will ensure that it is relevant to your line of work. It is essential that it outlines how you intend to collect information from users e.g. cookies and why you collect information from users, for example you may use it to improve your services and improve your website’s user experience.

Your privacy policy must also outline what you will and will not do with users’ information. This will give them a clear idea of your intentions so they can decide whether or not they are happy to continue using your website.

Most businesses state that by continuing to use their websites, users are automatically agreeing to their privacy policies and that if they do not agree they should close the browser window immediately.

Why add a privacy policy to a website?

Businesses in certain industries are required by law to create and maintain a privacy policy on their websites. These industries include banking, healthcare and other regulated industries. If your business is part of one of these regulated industries, you must ensure your privacy policy covers all the issues required under the regulations. Failure to do so may lead to you being fined or having your business license suspended.

If you are not part of a regulated industry, you are not under any obligation to have a privacy policy. However with people becoming more and more concerned about their privacy online, you may find it beneficial to have one anyway. Writing a privacy policy for your website will make it look more credible. This may help to build people’s trust in your company (particularly if you are new to the industry) and may also improve customer retention.

If your competitors appear to have privacy policies on their websites, it is suggested that you have one too.

Writing a privacy policy

Legal experts often say that it is better for businesses to have no privacy policy than to use a bad one. This is due to the fact that you can end up implicating yourself if you violate the terms of a poorly written privacy policy.

It is recommended that you do not write your privacy policy yourself, unless you know what you are doing. Instead you should outsource it to an expert, ensuring they have experience in writing policies for businesses in your industry.

european union flag

Businesses operating in the EU are required to include information about how and why they use cookies within their privacy policies.

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The Cookie Law

Even if you are not legally obliged to have a privacy policy on your website, if you use cookies, you will need to make sure you create a cookie policy (often included as part of a privacy policy) for your website in order to abide with The Cookie Law.

For those who don’t know, cookies are data files that act as a type of short-term memory for the web. They store themselves on users browsers and by doing so enable websites to remember snippets of information about users and their preferences.

Today many businesses use cookies on their websites to collect information about their visitors. The information they collect is often used to provide site visitors with a more personalised user experience. Sometimes businesses also collect cookies for research purposes so they can go on to improve their websites for their users.

The Cookie Law is a piece of privacy legislation that requires websites to get users’ consent before they store or retrieve any information on a computer or mobile device. It is important to check that you are complying with the law (in the UK it is part of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations) in order to avoid implications such as fines and other more serious consequences.

In order to comply with the cookie law you will first need an understanding of what cookies your website uses and how your business uses them. You then need to inform your website visitors how and why you use cookies on your website. Most businesses either create a Cookie Policy for their website or include it as part of their Privacy Policy.

You are also required by law to obtain users consent before using cookies. Many businesses use cookie law compliance solutions like Optanon to give users control over whether or not they choose to share and receive cookies.

Not only will informing users about cookies via your privacy policy help ensure you are complying with the regulations, but it will also help to build their trust in your business website, which can be incredibly beneficial in terms of improving conversions.

Conclusion

Whether you are required to by law or not, creating a privacy policy can be very beneficial for your business. We hope the information provided here has helped you to see why they are so important, especially in a world where people are growing increasingly concerned about their privacy online.

For more information about privacy policies or for expert help writing one for your website, please get in touch.

Image credits: Sarah B Brooks and Rjd0060

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