The problems with long-winded, small-printed EULAs and Terms of Service (TOS) have long been lamented. Packed with jargon and legalese, it’s well-known these lengthy documents receive a skim of the eye at best before users click “I agree.” According to Visual Capitalist, it can take longer to read the TOS of some online companies than it does to read an entire book. That’s great news for an organization trying to hide shady privacy practices. But what about users who care about how their data is used by the businesses they support?
Beyond the content itself, the timing and format of TOS and EULAs — typically served via pop-up once users have already decided to install the product — encourages users to blow past the fine print instead of stopping to educate themselves. In addition, some EULAs include sections in all capital letters, a throwback to when these contracts were written using a typewriter. Instead of having the intended effect of getting the reader to pay more attention to those sections, trying to scan all-caps paragraphs via browser is a visual nightmare.
To help privacy-conscious users better understand how your organization is using their data, it’s important to simplify the language of privacy policies, TOS, and EULAs, or add plain language “translations” next to legal jargon. In addition, explaining why your organization needs to collect particular data — for certain functions of the software or for better metrics/performance — helps educate users on which data is critical for product functionality, which is optional, and which should be anonymous or discarded. Describing the why also helps users establish trust in your organization and keeps their confidence high should changes need to be made to the policy in the future.
- Section off portions of legal language required for a contract and list their plain language “translations” parallel to or below the sections they describe.
- Clearly identify the types of data collected by your organization/product and explain why that data is needed.
- Use both the company website and blog to outline your organization’s views on privacy to customers earlier in the buyer’s journey — before they are ready to install. In this way, users will spend more time with the content and absorb it in a visually appealing format (as opposed to a wall of text crammed into a small pop-up).
- Raise awareness of your privacy-positive positioning through advertising and content marketing campaigns, SEO, press, or even through advocacy.
Ideally, by crafting smart privacy policies that protect users and clearly communicate which data you will use and why, your prospects will have a solid sense of where you stand on privacy long before they click “Install.” And if you manage to make privacy a commodity that your customers are willing to pay for: Congratulations! You’ve done the right thing by your users and you’ll profit from it. Win, win!
Happy Privacy Day!