I wonder whether or not you have been asking yourself this question.. In case you haven’t, let me do it for you:
Are you adult oriented when publishing online?
In other words: Have you ever been thinking how to protect people who are under the legal drinking age from viewing your website? Do you know what can you do to limit access to your website for underage people?
It sounds ridiculous indeed. Firstly perhaps you do not sell alcohol online and you do not run a business online. Secondly, you probably are doing your best to attract as many people as possible to your wine website. After all, this is the way to do it online.
Yet both you and I write about alcohol and that’s the fact. With our writing we promote drinking wine, we make our lifestyle look good and attractive. That’s why I believe we should do our best to highlight the importance of being an adult to read the alcohol related content.
Furthermore, I would like to point out one surprising fact. Many online wine businesses do not have any clear information on their websites that they are intended for adults only. As I can understand it if it comes to a wine blog, I do not understand it in terms of an online shop selling wine, especially if they ship abroad.
I do not want to convince you to turning your site into a big ‘’adults only’’ information. However, I believe placing a few reminders that you write for adults will make no harm to your website.
Imagine such situation: A 12 year old boy takes a laptop from his parents to find more info about alcohol. His 17 year old brother came back home drunk last night and he looked so ‘cool’. He was kind and funny; he even let the younger one enter his room and play his PlayStation . Now the younger one wants to be like his older brother. He starts his adventure by looking for info in the internet.
Will he be able to read all the wine related content from your website?
Will he get access to the wine brands you promote on your wine blog?
Is there any risk that this child find it encouraging to drink alcohol by simply reading what you’ve published on your website?
And the most important question: do you want to be responsible for this kid, if he somehow gets a bottle of wine or vodka and drinks it, making harm to himself or even killing himself?
As wine lovers, wine bloggers and wine online business owners, you do not often think this way. Why would you? You have so many other stuff to think about in your private and business life! If you add your own children, husbands or wives, bank loan problems, a leaking roof, a car that needs to be fixed, a nasty boss at work, a mother-in-law, etc, there is no time left to worry about some kid that can access your website and read the post you write about ‘benefits of drinking wine’.
You may not be directly responsible for it. You may not even know that your wine post encouraged some kid to drink. There is a risk someone may get hurt, though. I believe you care enough to do your best to limit the access to your wine website for underage people.
In fact, it is very easy to highlight you write for adults only!
So, are YOU adult oriented?
If this did not cross your mind before, let me ask you a few questions:
- Have you done your best within your website so underage people cannot see your wine related content?
- Can your customers buy wine without age verification?
- Do you have any disclaimers or information in your website that you are adult oriented? How do you inform you write only for adults?
- Do your readers and visitors need to confirm their age before getting access to your website?
- If you sell wine online, how do you control whether your visitor is an adult or not?
- Can everyone sign up to your emailing list?
- Do you require your new subscribers to be over the legal drinking age when they subscribe to your emailing list?
- How do you promote your products, services and website itself? Do you promote drinking lifestyle?
- Do you contribute anyhow in protecting teenagers from alcohol problems?
I know… your business is all about attracting as many potential customers or readers as possible, not about making it more difficult to find you online.
Yet due to problems that alcohol may cause, you could take some steps toward protecting underage people from viewing alcohol related content.
In this article I will show you how you can clearly declare on your website that you are adult oriented. Let’s keep children and teenagers safe. It is important not to encourage them to drink alcohol and risk any harm that drinking alcohol may cause.
7 ways to show your website is for adults
Here are some ideas I encourage you to consider. They are very easy to implement and most of them should not make any difference in the readability experience on your website.
I have some of these on my website and I will attach the links and screens below, so you can learn more about how I inform my visitors I am adult oriented. I don’t find these reminders unattractive. Similarly, I do not think any of them make my website’s readability experience worse.
Moreover, I think you didn’t even realize in how many places I inform my readers I am adult oriented ;)
(1) Pop up
Nowadays there are hundreds of pop ups available that you can add to your website. A pop up is a small window that appears when you try to access a particular website.
Of course, most of us do not like pop ups because often times they are annoying and we cannot turn them off, yet I am not talking about this aggressive type of pop ups and I believe you’re not using them on your wine website ;)
You may add a simple pop up which says that you write for adults only and it may not require any action from your visitor; it may just be a short sentence with info that appears on top or the bottom of your website and disappears after a few seconds.
Other ways require an action from your visitor and may be find annoying:
- Confirming a visitor is an adult by selecting ‘’Yes I am an adult’’, or
- Filling in the gaps with the birth date or the year of birth, or
- Selecting a country a visitor lives in and a year of birth from a drop down menu, etc.
I have seen many of these types of pop ups when trying to access a wine related websites and it was not annoying at all. To be honest, I think as a reader in wine industry I have simply got used to it. I believe so have you.
The pop ups that requires the most complicated actions are often times on the websites that sells alcohol online. So if you sell the alcohol online, you may consider adding the pop up with date of birth confirmation as the law may require it*.
If you have a wine blog, you may add a pop up that doesn’t require any action from users and just informs your visitors that you write for adults.
2 in 1 ;)
This is the solution I use at the moment.
The only issue may be with the fact that after clicking ‘ok’ the window doesn’t pop up again when the same person visits the website again. Depends on the settings, the pop up may or may not be displayed after a particular period of time. This is why I also use other ways to inform I am adult oriented at Wine-Lady.com.
Here are a few examples of different pop ups that I found on wine websites:
The ‘’cookie notification’’ pop up with info the website is for adults only that pops up at the top of Wine-Lady.com when a person accesses the website:
Randal Grahm’s website BeenDoonSoLong.com with a pop up to confirm the age.
(2) Homepage with blocked access to the rest of the content
Some websites shows a different homepage for first-time visitors and a different one for those, who confirm they are adults.
You can do it in a few different ways:
- homepage shows only general info such as what it is about, who is the author, contact details, etc and to access the alcohol related content, the person needs to confirm the age by filling up the fields with date of birth;
- it shows only general info and to get access to alcohol related content, the person needs to log in;
- darkened or whitened homepage; to get the access to any content, a visitor needs to confirm he or she is an adult or log in;
There are websites, where you have to log in or buy access to read the content. Although this is often a business model of the owner of the website and a way he or she earns money from the website, yet it also helps to make sure only adults get access to the alcohol related content. (If, of course, a person needs to confirm her age when signing up).
A few examples of homepages with blocked access to its content. In that case, a visitor needs to confirm his age to get access to the page:
Chateau d’Yquem – on their homepage there are a photography of the chateau and a short form to fill in, which includes a place of residence and a question whether a person was born before the particular date, which is 21 or 18 years from ‘today’ (depends on the country).
(3) ‘Start Here’ page and ‘about me’ page
Some website owners add the disclaimers or paragraphs regarding the subject on their ‘start here’ or ‘about me’ pages. You can simply add a short paragraph saying that you wish your readers to be over the minimal drinking age in their country if they want to read your website.
This is the way I do it since I started my online wine adventure. Here are the screens to both my pages, where you can check out how I highlight that I am adult oriented on my website:
Here’s a screen from my ‘start here’ page. You can see I have created there a separate section to inform my readers this site is intended for adults only.
Here’s another screen from my website: my ‘About me’ page. At the end of the page there are two paragraphs within the text, regarding Wine-Lady.com being adult oriented.
(4) Wine blog – within the posts or in the sidebar
Some people add a short disclaimer at the end of their posts. With one short sentence they inform the readers that the content is intended for adults only. It is a good and non-invasive way to remind your readers that you are adult oriented. It doesn’t have any negative impact on readability experience.
This way some bloggers inform about the social responsibility as well.
The other way is a disclaimer in the sidebar. It can be in a form of an image or plain text.
You can add a picture that clearly shows the website is intended for adults. For example: in Poland some companies add an image with info 18+ which means that this content is for adults only. (18 is the minimum legal drinking age in Poland). This, however, may not apply to international websites. Reason? The minimum drinking age varies from one country to another.
Instead of an image, you can add text-only reminder to your sidebar. This is the solution I chose.
Whether my readers are previewing my blog or going deeper into each blog posts, they will still see the short message because the sidebar is a constant part of my blog page.
Below you’ll find a screen of my blog page with a disclaimer in sidebar.
At the moment of writing this article I do not have any document where I inform my readers about the legal rights and responsibilities. I mistakenly thought I do not need any, unless I sell anything through the website.
Recently I’ve learned, however, that it is better to have a legal disclaimer especially considering I write about alcohol. So I’m working on it and very soon it will appear on Wine-Lady.com. Furthermore, I will have a couple more articles to publish regarding the subject in the near future. Stay tuned :)
Therefore, if you have got any type of disclaimer or document on your website that deals with the legal policies, think of adding there a short paragraph about being adult oriented as well.
It is surprising, how many companies that sell wine via their website do not include any information about a required minimum age of their visitors! When preparing screens for this article I read through many terms / disclaimers / legal etc documents on many important and famous wine websites. It was a negative surprise when I realized that such a large number of them do not even have one sentence regarding the age verification.
I know there are different rules and law restrictions regarding online wine businesses and websites and these rules and regulations depend on the country. Yet, as we write about alcohol, in my opinion we should always remember about the harm it may cause and consider safety precautions.
As an example, I would like to show you how Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere deals with the age restrictions in their terms policy on their website.
And here’s another example, Champagne Taittinger and their legal disclaimer.
(6) The sign up form to your e-mailing list
Let me ask you:
- If you collect email addresses of your loyal readers and / or customers, do you require them to confirm their age?
- Does anybody can sign up to your emailing list and receive your newsletters or promotional emails?
- How do you make sure that you do not send a newsletter with promotion of drinking wine to adolescents?
- How do you make sure that your emails with discount offer for wine cases do not go to underage people?
- Do you use segmentation for your emailing lists?
There are many factors that affect the quality of your mailing list and the type of emails and newsletters you send to your lists. If you have a shop and one of your email lists contain only your customers that had to confirm their age before buying wine, then it is OK to send them all types of emails (promotional, informational, with offer etc), unless the law* require you to collect the consents for receiving the promotional emails, offers, etc.
What about those people, who can sign up to your emailing list simply by filling in the ‘email address’ and ‘name’ fields? What types of emails do you send to those people and how can you make sure they are over the minimum legal age to receive the content with promotion of alcohol or any kind of offers?
A check box – a simple solution
Again, it’s surprising, how many people do not have any type of age verification with their email forms on their websites. I am not saying that everyone who wants to sign up to your emailing list needs to write down the date of birth, because we all know that the less a visitor needs to do to get what she or he wants, the more likely she or he will finish the process (of signing up to your list, of buying, filling in the survey, etc).
At the same time, however, I believe that if you add a simple check box to your email form, it will make no harm. This way, though, you ensure people confirm they are adults before joining your list. You can also add a short sentence such as ‘By subscribing you acknowledge that you read and understand terms and conditions’ and link to your terms and conditions document, where you include a paragraph regarding age restrictions.
My super-sensitive self ;)
I think that, speaking for myself, I feel better knowing people confirm they are adults before signing up to my emailing list. Personally, I do not want to risk sending emails with alcohol promotion to adolescents.
Furthermore, I am ready for changes in case the law changes and become stricter about the subject. And we all know that there are more and more restrictions coming, especially regarding online activities with adult-products including online alcohol sells and promotion of alcoholic beverages and lifestyle.
At the same time, I can sleep better knowing I’ve done my best to limit the access to my website and my emails to people who are too young for it. Perhaps it is me who is too super-sensitive, but I feel more comfortable with it.
Here’s a screen of my email list form, where you can see a checkbox with ‘being adult’ confirmation. I have a few email lists and I have the same checkbox on each of them. By the way, if you are not my subscriber yet, you can sign up now.
The following screen is from Decanter’s Magazine website. You’ll see links to policies & terms, which include the information about age restrictions.
(7) Contact form and commenting
Your visitors use your contact form to contact you. You may consider adding a check box within your contact form, so the person needs to confirm she or he is an adult before contacting you.
I have a simple check box within my contact form, and since I added it in 2014 I do not see any decrease in the number of messages I receive. Notwithstanding, as Wine Lady I want to deal with adults rather than adolescents.
Here’s a screen:
Another, and the last one I cover in this article, is the comment section under your wine blog posts. This is applicable for you if you have your comment bar active.
There are many ways your visitors can comment under your wine blog posts: whether it will be the part of your theme, a special plugin for comments, or a plugin that uses social media profiles to leave a comment. Whichever you choose, you may have a possibility to add a check box or even a short sentence, saying that you do not wish to receive messages from people who are under age. It depends on the plugin you’re using.
Some of the plugins have a possibility to select an ‘adult oriented’ option in their settings. It means that only logged in adult people will be able to comment under your blog posts.
Here’s an example:
To the best of your ability…
You can do the best of your ability to highlight that you are adult oriented. You can use every possible way to protect young people from viewing your alcohol related content. However, you cannot be 100% sure that a child won’t see it.
Children are smart. Teenagers are even smarter. It’s not impossible for them to click ‘’Yes I am an adult’’ when accessing your website. It is not impossible for them to write a date of birth that will let them access your website. They may read your declaration about writing only for adults and not care about it at all. It may happen and unfortunately it is highly probable you won’t be able to stop it.
There will always be a risk of young people accessing the alcohol websites. Yet trying your best to avoid it and placing some adult oriented reminders, you show you care.
Be as up to date as possible
Remember, that as a business owner (website owner, wine blog owner) it is your responsibility to be up-to-date with the law restrictions. It matters especially, if you deal with adults only products.
Therefore remember to check from time to time whether or not there were any changes within the law in your country or countries you target to. Furthermore, do not forget to check whether or not you need to implement those changes on your website.
Be adult oriented on social media
In the near future I will publish an article in which I will focus on social media. I will show you how you can protect underage people from accessing your wine and alcohol related content on social networks.
You will read how you can limit access to your social media profiles so only adults can access them. I will include tutorials for the most popular social platforms, so you can see how to change the settings there. If you wish to receive notifications about updates from Wine-Lady.com, click the sign up banner above or click here to sign up to my emailing list. Moreover, follow me on social media to get access to wine news and updates I publish on a daily basis.
Would you like to add something? :)
I will be happy to read your comments. I wonder whether you think about being adult oriented when creating content for your wine website? Do you know what law restrictions are applicable for you and your wine writing online? How do you inform your visitors that you are adult oriented? Feel free to share this article on your social media. You can also drop me a line, I’d love to know what you think.
The above article is a guide to possible steps you could adapt to your website regarding the age verification and being adult oriented when writing about alcohol.
Please remember, however, that you are obliged to assess the steps and regulations appropriate for your individual circumstances as well as the current laws and regulations in your country of residence and in the countries, where your website can be entered.
In some countries, you may need permission from your subscribers so they agree to receive emails with alcohol promotion and offers. Ensure you are aware of the law regulations that are applicable to you and your website.
No system is fail-safe. The concept of informing your readers, visitors and customers can be challenging in terms of effectiveness.
I am not a lawyer and this article is not intended to be legal advice. If you need a legal advice, please contact your lawyer directly.