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This article was published on March 29, 2013

    Now THIS is how to write your startup’s Terms of Service

    Now THIS is how to write your startup’s Terms of Service
    Martin Bryant
    Story by

    Martin Bryant

    Founder

    Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

    Almost all of us are guilty of not reading the terms of service when we sign up for online accounts – life’s just too short for all that difficult-to-parse legalese. There is a better way to write a Terms of Service though; witness the approach that recently-relaunched Twitter rival Heello has taken.

    This morning I was pitched LO for Heello, an iOS client for the service. Now, the world isn’t crying out for Heello clients but as it came from a developer I knew, I thought it was worth a look. First I had to sign up for the service, which led me to its nicely laid-out terms of service.

    Heello terms of service

    Yes, those tl;dr summaries on the right are what makes this such a good document. Let’s take a closer look.

    Heello terms of service

    The legalese is still there, and to understand everything about your rights and responsibilities, you’ll still need to read it, but the text on the right gives you the headline points in an easy-to-understand form, while also saying something about the attitude of the startup, too.

    Heello may not have much to offer beyond being a simple Twitter clone, but at least it’s pointing the way to better terms of service – and maybe that’s something other startups should clone from it.

    Update:As James Mundy notes, Pinterest has a similar format for its terms of service:

    Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.23.18

    Update 2: In the comments below, it’s suggested that 500px was first to use this approach. We applaud you, 500px:

    Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 12.24.47

    Also read: Clickwrapped report tells you which sites claim ownership of your content, and you’ll be surprised

    Thumbnail image credit: Thinkstock

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