9 Privacy Policy Usability Tips

After realizing I’ve never covered privacy policies here in much depth, I thought it would make a decent blog topic. I sat down to brainstorm a list of what would make for privacy policy usability. What I usually do is go hunting for examples from a variety of online retailers to illustrate the best-practices.

To my surprise, after checking out a handful of sites, I found one e-tailer that covered all the bases – eToys.

Privacy Policy Links

Link from footer – Linking to privacy policies from the footer menu is a convention, meaning enough sites do it this way and it’s likely that a customer will look there first when they want to access the privacy policy. Some sites hide the policy behind “Customer Service” or “FAQ” links, but that reduces the chances customers will find it quickly, if at all.

Link from anywhere you ask for registration – (create account, email sign up etc) to reduce friction and increase opt-ins.

Email Signup:

Account Creation:

You may also want to read: Registration Usability – Permission Email Dos and Donts

Checkout – eToys maintains a footer menu throughout the checkout process along with other important policies.

Privacy Policy Copy

FAQ style bookmark links – Most privacy policies are ridiculously long. Bookmark links give the reader an overview of what you’re talkin’ ’bout, and the ability to jump directly to what they want to know.

Show trust badges and seals prominently – If you’ve paid for these seals to boost trust and conversions, why not leverage them on your privacy page too?

Bold headlines and sub-headlines – Nice and easy to scan.

Plain English, mixed case – THERES NOTHING WORSE THAN 459 LINES OF LEGALESE, IN ALL CAPS. IT HAPPENS. IT SHOULDN’T. LIGHT GRAY TEXT SUCKS TOO.

Visitor surveys – Sometimes websites will invite visitors to complete a satisfaction survey, like 4Q. It’s a good idea to add a link to the privacy policy in the pop-up window or a few sentences of how you respect their privacy. No eToys example for this one.

Got any other tips for privacy policy usability? Please leave a comment.

Nofollow Attributes

Another tip is to add “nofollow” attributes to Privacy Policy links to improve your SEO. If this is all Geek to you, check out a post from that discusses Page Rank sculpting.

Update: Page Rank sculpting is no longer relevant to SEO.

D-I-Y Privacy Policies

The Privacy Policy Generator is a great tool for DIY’ers. It asks you to check off what kinds of information you collect, how you use cookies and so on.

Hope this helps you out with your privacy policy usability.

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11 Responses to “9 Privacy Policy Usability Tips”

  1. [...] Darren Rowse wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptNofollow Attributes. Another tip is to add “nofollow” attributes to Privacy Policy links to improve your SEO. If this is all Geek to you, check out a post from that discusses Page Rank sculpting. … [...]

  2. [...] a great post by Linda at Get Elastic, I found a privacy policy generator. Simply  enter your company [...]

  3. Ayat says:

    Something so simple can have such a great impact on users, yet too many companies do a poor job of displaying their private policy effectively throughout the site, especially during user submissions. As always, great article Linda! :)

  4. Mike says:

    Koodo Mobile does a good job of this with a Privacy/Legal link in the footer of each page. Other telco sites i visited had it visible in the footer but not as easily accessible.

  5. [...] example. The blog shares general strategies for selling on the Internet. Recent posts include: 9 Privacy Policy Usability Tips, Cart Abandonment, and Dads and Grads: Missed Merchandising [...]

  6. Very informative articles. It is interesting that so important issue is not touched in many ecommerce websites.

  7. [...] Ubiquitous Privacy Policy: Having an effective privacy policy means not just burying the page in the footer of your website, but rather linking to it anytime you [...]

  8. [...] as a “Killer SEO Trick Only 1% of Online Retailers Use” and referenced the practice in 9 Privacy Policy Usability Tips, Tips for SEO Friendly Affiliate Programs and Dodging Duplicate Content Filters While Assisting [...]

  9. I find your blog to be extremely useful and informative. I love the fact that you provide examples and discuss the merits of both good and bad examples. Many pundits spout off trite trivia … you get the job done!

    Thank you for sharing. Hope many copy your style.

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