In 2012 Instagram attempted to change its terms and conditions by adding a statement that said they are allowed to “sell uploaded pictures to advertisers.” As was expected, this upset their users, leading to angry tweets and emails with hashtags like #Instascam, #Instafraud, and #leavinginstagram. Instagram later apologized, altered the lines, and managed to survive the backlash. 
Since this was Instagram, it managed to survive. However, for smaller less-known businesses, this can cause irreversible disruptions.
The ‘terms and conditions’ page is thus crucial for business as well as its customers. It is a bridge that facilitates clear communication and solutions to possible disputes. 
Here are a few benefits of clear and easy-to-understand ‘terms and conditions,’

  1. Brand trust. Users know that the brand truly cares about them when the ‘terms and conditions’ page is easy to read. A ‘terms and conditions’ page also helps send trust signals to Google. These signals lead to a more positive SEO impact and less likelihood to be penalized for suspicious usage. 
  2. Avoid customer outrage. If the terms are unclear or confusing, users may feel misled, which can hurt or anger them. 
  3. Protection from lawsuits. In extreme cases, inconsistencies in a terms and conditions page can result in legal penalties.

There are different legal sections that are mandatory as a part of your website/app and have legal importance. The exact content that forms the ‘terms and conditions’ depends on various factors such as the type of business, region of operation, and if third-party services are involved. However, the vast majority of ‘terms and conditions’
have substantial commonalities. Here are the essential elements you need to include,

Disclaimer and limits liability

Websites that accept user content submissions list disclaimers and liability limits. This disclaimer substantially limits their responsibility for the content on their website. Sites where content moderation by the site owners is not possible or where there are links to external pages list these disclaimers. A disclaimer says that the site owner isn’t responsible for the content or links.

A copyright notice helps take care of plagiarism. Regardless of your business, your website should always include a copyright and trademark notice. 

Privacy policy

A privacy policy usually applies to websites that collect user information such as email addresses, personal data, or payment information. This privacy policy states how the business will use this information. Note that this is the only part of the ‘terms and conditions’ that is legally required. 

Governing law

Every business’ ‘terms and conditions’ limit their liability to the law of the country and state where the company operates. You may often find statements such as, “These terms and conditions are governed by the laws of the United States of America and the laws of the State of California.”

Why do users ignore it?

Usually, users have no choice as they need to use the app/website to accomplish a specific task or a goal. They rarely have the time and the legal expertise to dwell over details.
These are some issues users face with regards to the ‘terms and conditions’ page:

  1. Users often agree with ‘click to agree’ clauses, and rarely read large paragraphs of legal text. They, however, realize its importance only when a dispute arises. 
  2. Most of the Pages have long scrolls that have tedious language and are time-consuming.
  3. Legal experts write this text, and it is full of legal jargon. This jargon makes it difficult to understand even if one tries to read them.
  4. At times, ‘terms and conditions’ are difficult to find or navigate to and mostly inaccessible.
  5. They may contain unclear or misleading clauses and hidden content that users are unable to grasp.

As is expected, the over experience is frustrating for users, and they often ignore the page and agree to the terms that they have not read and understood. The onus then lies on us as UX designers to make this page more consumable and valuable for our users so they can make informed decisions.

How can Design make it better?

While it is not advisable to spend a lot of time on this, small fixes and tweaks can help address the issue.
When design invites people to consider their options, at least some people will do it. On the other hand, if design nudges them to follow a habit that years of click-to-agree has instilled, then they’ll keep doing that instead. There are a few companies that are aware of this issue and trying their best to better their terms and make it a better experience for their customers. 
Here are a few simple ways and examples for bettering your ‘terms and conditions’ pages,