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CASL Compliance for Designers

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Design & User Experience

If you own/run/work for an online store, we’re going to assume you’re communicating electronically with your customers (you should be!). The government of Canada recently put in to place new laws to protect consumers from said communications you may be sending. These laws are what people are referring to as “CASL”, which stands for Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation. Today I’ll outline to you what CASL is, why you should care as a designer, and what you can do to design in accordance with CASL. This post is a great review for business owners and eCommerce managers to gain a better understanding too! Here’s how you can ensure you’re compliant:

What is CASL?

Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation was put in place to protect Canadians from un-justified digital marketing tactics. Basically the government is putting rules around how retailers can collect customer data to ensure it’s done fairly.

If you’d like to learn more check out: Everything you should know about CASL

Why should designers care?

Our designs need to be CASL compliant or our clients risk a multi-million dollar fine. Clients are relying on the people building their sites to become experts and ensure their safety.

As an eCommerce designer, CASL rules scared me. Reading the government website was extremely overwhelming with a ridiculous amount of content, footnotes, and grey areas. In the end I understood what it was and how it worked… but how the heck do I design my newsletter subscriptions? What is the simplest way to cover our butts? And thus, this post was born.

Designing for CASL.

3 things to remember…

  • Users must perform an action to express consent to receiving emails.
  • It has to be clearly stated what they are opting into.
  • Be as transparent as possible.
  • In the header or footer…

    When designing a sign-up for your header or footer, you want it to be as simple as possible to preserve this valuable real estate. State your intentions “receive our newsletter” and give a direct call to action “sign up”. An envelope icon doesn’t cut it. Users inputting their email address will count as a manual action of permission if you have this explanatory support copy.


    In the checkout…

    Absolutely never pre-check the opt in box. Whether in checkout, the footer, or the content of the site. Be obvious and transparent about your intentions. This not only meets CASL compliance, it also creates a better user experience. Besides, forcing people to sign up will probably irritate more customers than it will gain new shoppers. This also applies to creating an account.


    Related: 7 Simple Methods to Building Trust During Checkout

    Pop-up modals…

    The modal on the left simply says “Sign Up” without any context. A user could potentially argue that they were spammed without knowing what they were committing to. The design on the right explains that by inputting an email address the user will receive a company newsletter. Simply stating the outcome of inputting an email makes this modal CASL compliant.


    Additional tips & best practices.

  • A checkbox is one of the best forms of manual permission (de-active by default).
  • Additional verbiage is recommended. State specifics of what they’re signing up for, the content they will receive, how often the emails will be sent out, promotions attached to signing up, etc. This not only increases your transparency, but it gives customers motivation to join. Many people are hesitant to give away their information without thinking, “what’s in it for me”.
  • A line describing the opt-out process is a bonus. “You can withdraw your consent at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy or contact us for further details”.
  • 4BestPractice

    Don’t let CASL intimidate you.

    CASL guidelines ensure users are aware of company’s intentions. Following them will not only rescue you from a massive fine, it will help build customer loyalty. Be honest, be transparent, and give your customers the courtesy of an optional sign up. Besides, being polite is part of Canadian culture, eh?

    Related: [Mini Tutorial] CASL Compliance for Newsletter Subscribers

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