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T&Cs That Won’t Get You into Trouble or Spoil Your Form

Form Optimisation

When it comes to form design, it’s tempting to spend as little time as possible on the terms and conditions section. But for car loan providers, T&Cs are a necessary evil that keep the legal team happy and the business safe. However, if there’s one thing customers like even less than filling in length forms, it’s T&Cs. In this blog, we look at the different approaches you can take to make them less painful while delivering what the business needs.

The Many Faces of T&Cs

Terms and conditions comes in many guises covering operational areas as diverse as terms of service, privacy policies, cookie usage and copyright. Essentially, T&Cs are a legal contract that outline the rules that visitors must abide by when using a particular platform or app or signing up to an agreement.

They are included in many forms to protect the site visitor as well as the business by providing legal protections over the website’s content. And while T&Cs might feel like a waste of time for form designers who could be finessing fields to up conversion rates, there are a number of benefits to well-worked terms and conditions in your forms:

They build trust in your brand – helping people understand how you protect them while on your site provides reassurance that they won’t be mistreated or scammed

  • A T&Cs page plus a privacy and About Us page helps Google certify you as trustworthy boosting your SEO
  • They protect you from a potential court case by securing users’ consent to allow you to manage, store and use their data
  • They help car loan providers gain the necessary agreements to perform credit checks

With tighter data protection regulations via the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), ensuring your T&Cs are enforceable has never been more important. And form design has a big part to play in whether they’re legally effective or not.

Now, Where Did I Put Those T&Cs?

Where and how you display your legal agreements impacts on whether or not they will stand up in a court of law, no matter how carefully your legal team has worded them. Hide your T&Cs away and make it difficult for people to find and agree to them and you could be in all sorts of legal trouble.

Yet this is how some businesses operate secreting this important documentation using browsewrap which requires users to search or browse the website to find the T&Cs. Often they’re available at the bottom of the website in tiny text as in this image.

Source: TermsFeed

Businesses that use this approach are assuming that customers have consented to their conditions by providing their implied agreement.

The alternative is to implement ‘clickwrap’ where you ask the user to click a tick box or radio button thus giving their express agreement. This is far stronger than implied agreement in the eyes of the law and is often enforceable while browsewrap is not.

If your organisation uses the browsewrap option, it could be time to take a more open and secure approach by including explicit agreement statements in your forms. But what does good form UX look like when it comes to terms and conditions?

Getting Agreement

The main aim of including terms in a form is to get your customer’s agreement. This means providing users with a quick and easy way to do this and there a number of options.

In all instances, you will be asking someone to agree to your terms with a simple yes/no. A binary response allows you to use a tick box, a radio button or a slide button to allow people to opt in.

The image below shows a combination of browse and clickwrap from Amazon. The user is asked to check a tick box to show that they agree with the customer agreement. If they don’t tick it, they cannot create an account and continue thus forcing the customer to give explicit consent.

At the same time and in a similar way to browsewrap, the T&Cs are provided using a link to the relevant page on the website where the user can read the document. This combination of approaches ensure explicit agreement has been gained whilst keeping lengthy documentation outside of the form.

Source: TermsFeed

Is the use of the tick box the best approach to gaining consent? My experience says not.

Tick boxes are very small making it more difficult and time consuming to tick them. Users find larger icons that perform the same function, like radio buttons (that can be re-sized) or slide switches to be easier and therefore quicker to target. They also make the user less likely to miss and reduce the frustration that accompanies multiple clicks.

Bigger Buttons Are Better

As you would expect from the Data Protection Network, good practise can be found in the image below.  Their T&Cs use sliders that change from red to green as agreement is given making users’ actions clear at a glance and reducing cognitive load.

Source: EConsultancy

This approach is not dissimilar to inline validation techniques that highlight errors in red and reward correct information with a green tick that also signals to the user that they can continue.

Given that legal agreements are often at the end of forms when the user just wants to finish, this approach could be a real help. Trying different designs with A/B testing will reveal which works best for your users.

Pre-ticked or Not Pre-ticked?

If slide buttons aren’t for your business and you want to stick with tick boxes or radio buttons, you need to consider whether or not to pre-tick. In the past, particularly for marketing opt-ins, businesses would often tick the box putting the emphasis on the user to opt-out.

Whether this approach is acceptable really depends what the agreement is for. If it’s a marketing opt-in, pre-filled boxes will mean that you are not compliant with the GDPR. You will need to leave the space blank so that the user is forced to take action to opt in.

Sainsbury’s form (below) provides a really clear breakdown of what the user is being asked to opt-in to, clearly splitting our terms and conditions from contact permissions.

Source: EConsultancy

The use of inline-validation-style red exclamation symbols and red text also makes it very clear exactly what the user has to do. The agreement is also a two-stage process as the user must tick the boxes and then click on the register button giving the business peace of mind with a belt and braces approach.

Death by T&Cs

If your business is keen on full disclosure of your T&Cs, it’s possible to include them visibly on the page as in the example below.

Source: Virgin

This method probably has two aims:

  1. To show that there’s nothing to hide
  2. To be super-compliant by ensuring customers read the terms and conditions

In an effort to force users to scroll to the end, some forms lock the tick box until someone has scrolled through the text. However, the likelihood of this approach achieving its goals is small.

Ask yourself, how many times have you read T&Cs when they’re displayed like this and how many times have you scrolled to the bottom just so you can tick the box? Research shows that just 7% of users read the T&Cs making the display and scroll approach a waste of most people’s time, particularly if they have no intention of reading all that legal jargon any way.

In the UK, there’s no legal requirement to enforce people to read T&Cs so we recommend using one of the earlier combinations of browsewrap and slide button to ease customers through the legal bit. Those who want to can still access and read the T&Cs. Those who don’t can agree and get on with their lives.

It’s possible to deliver good-looking forms that comply with the law, protect your business and help your users. With a range of different ways to present your T&Cs, it’s well worth testing a range of options to see which work best for your customers.