Thanks to all those who came to the Simple Action day on 13 April in London. We came up with some interesting responses to the consultation from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). They are looking for ways to make Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) more accessible.

We felt that rather than dive into recommending specific solutions such as ‘put key facts in bold’ (one of those in the consultation document), it’s better to encourage better design processes and realistic performance standards.

You can download our draft report from here.

Here are some quotes from our response document:

“…making a distinction between T&Cs which consumers genuinely need to understand, and others of a legal and technical nature which will have little likely impact on them. Forcing them to consider the more obscure terms just imposes extra cognitive load.”

“While the fight for plain English continues, we see the battleground moving increasingly to the issues of legibility and design.”

“Supplying illegible print amounts to not supplying it at all.”

“The CRA (Consumer Rights Act) speaks of the ‘average consumer’, meaning “a consumer who is reasonably well-informed, observant and circumspect.” But as your Call for Evidence points out, our standards of observance and circumspection are easily affected by stress and cognitive biases. Moreover, functional literacy is a significant problem.”

“We would like to see the concept of duty of care more formally recognised, rather than just implied. One effective way to help companies manage such a duty would be a formal risk assessment process for T&Cs, similar to the health and safety risk assessments which all organisations are familiar with.”

We go on to list processes such as use cases, risk assessment, co-designing and testing. And design patterns such as progressive disclosure, forgiveness, norms and exceptions, icons, visualisations, and layering.

The plan now is to develop demonstrations of these solutions in action, then update the report. Look out for more Simple Action days, and if you’d like to get more closely involved ask to be added to our Basecamp hub – this is a private online place where we can develop ideas together.