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Why we intentionally created clear and understandable website terms for our Self Service SMS tool

Mārtiņš Labāns
by Mārtiņš Labāns
4 weeks ago

We have been in the SMS messaging industry for over 12 years. When we came up with the idea of ​​redesigning our website at the beginning of 2022, there was no doubt that we also wanted to redesign our website’s legal documents. Two of our company’s values ​​are Transparency and Security, so we knew that we wanted to provide not only clearly defined services and prices on the new website but also to be transparent in our legal documents.

Planning and executing

Our target is not only to deliver excellent SMS and massaging services but also a modern, comprehensible, and easy-to-understand experience for our customers. Regarding the legal documents, our primary goal was to make them more convenient and understandable. That’s why we divided the legal document creation process into three stages:

  • Defining the need (what legal documents do we need and why)
  • Team involvement (we involved several colleagues who deal daily with customer support, sales, and data security)
  • Implementation of documents (so that documents are understandable to everyone)

The process of legal design

One might think that “contract design” and “legal design” is the same, but they are not synonyms. If contract design takes care of understandable documents, legal design is a broader process in which a more comprehensive team is involved with design thinking methods to facilitate processes (internally between colleagues or in relations with customers).

Our primary goal was to identify processes so our website visitor has an understandable path to becoming a customer. Therefore, our research affected not only the process of concluding contracts (which is one of the final steps in customer attraction) but much earlier – how our potential customer learns about us, the following steps after initial interest, and the most frequent questions or uncertainties, etc.

No legal jargon

While our designers and developers worked on developing the website content, it became clear that standard legal documents would not work for us. No one reads them, most don’t understand them, and users approve them without going into depth. Legalese makes legal documents difficult to understand by using jargon, Latin terms, or complicated words and phrases.

Since we stand for Transparency, and we do it not only in words, it was also essential for us that our users and customers could easily understand documents such as Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, and, of course, Acceptable Use Policy.

Our customers are international, so it was important to use plain English rather than complicated legal jargon. We want our customers to understand what they agree to and their commitments. Our Privacy Policy and Data Processing Agreement also explains in understandable language how we process the personal data of both our customers and SMS senders and recipients.

The technology

We chose the visual legal document builder named RockTerms to create the website’s legal documents. It is a legal-tech solution where you can freely create Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policies, and countless other documents. You can also choose their templates and even change them.

Website terms and policies that don’t suck

All our documents are created in a unified style – structuring and highlighting information. We structured information into blocks and used plain English, active voice, and icons chosen by us. The document also contains our corporate font and colors.

I am convinced that, for example, our Terms & Conditions are more understandable to our customers than they were before. They are also easier to understand than our competitors have because we deliberately do not use legal jargon.

Conclusion

Shorter isn’t necessarily better, but we are confident with the result. The numbers say it all – the word count of, for example, our Privacy Policy dropped from 2018 words to 899 (minus 56%). We save money when translating our legal documents because the most common pricing model for translators is to charge per word.

Legal design helped us empathize with our customers, who, as a result, through visual legal documents, better understand their rights and our requirements and see how our service works.

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