4 Boring but Essential Things Your Website Must Have

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Privacy, Terms of Use, Sitemap, Copyright

Here at Web Solutions, we build countless websites. All of them have different designs and functionality, but most have four behind-the-scenes elements that we recommend including on every site. They're not flashy, but they're important. Here’s what they are and why we include them.

Privacy Policy

If you collect any personally identifiable information from your site users, you are required by law to have a privacy policy. A privacy policy specifies what type of personal information you collect, including first and last name, credit card number, email, address, and Social Security number. Your privacy policy should also explain:

  • How the information is collected
  • How it is used
  • Whether the collected information is shared, sold, or rented to any third party
  • What security measures are in place to keep the information secure
  • The choices available to users regarding the use of personal data, including whether and how they can opt out of sharing information
  • Whether your site is using any third-party service to collect, process or store personal information
  • How users can change, correct, or delete any personal information that has been collected

Terms of Use

While a terms of use or terms and conditions page is not legally required, it’s a good idea to have one. A terms page details the rules and conditions that visitors must follow when using your website. It should include disclaimers limiting your legal liability for errors, inaccuracies, links to other websites, and statements made by third parties on your site. It should also include the location where your website is operating, usually the company name and address, so users know what legal jurisdiction the site is governed by.

Site Map

A site map is a list of all the pages on your website, structured hierarchically. A site map not only helps site visitors easily locate a page, it can help make sure Google and other search engines are able to crawl and index all the content on your site. According to Google, a site map is especially helpful for sites that are unusually large, have been launched recently, have internal pages that are not linked to each other, or use rich media content.

For websites built in our proprietary Web Solutions CMS (content management system), a site map is generated automatically. For the sites we build in WordPress, we create a site map manually.

Copyright

A copyright can support your legal rights and help you win greater damages should someone steal your online content.

Any original content on your website is automatically protected under copyright law. While it’s not mandatory, it’s a good idea to include a copyright notice on your website. A copyright can support your legal rights and help you win greater damages should someone steal your online content, and may deter infringements from happening.

A copyright notice should include:

  • The copyright symbol ©, or the words "Copyright" or "Copr."
  • The year(s) the work was published, either as a list (©2017, 2016, 2015) or a range (©1996 – ©2017)
  • The name of the copyright owner

It’s generally sufficient to post one copyright notice on the footer of the home page—that covers the content of the entire site. For additional protection, you can link the copyright notice to a dedicated copyright page on your site, or add a copyright section to your terms of use page stating that you own the content, design, and graphics on your site, and that nothing on the site may be reproduced without permission.