You may have read recently that the regulations around cookies and storing user information online are changing! But don't panic - make sure you know how this may impact your company's website and make the necessary changes.
A cookie is a small text file containing a unique ID that is placed on your computer by a website and then stores files of information, such as what pages you visit or what information you enter. These cookies tend to be mutually beneficial, making for a smoother and more personalised user experience, whilst allowing companies to monitor site performance.
Cookies fall into two categories, which in layman's terms include temporary and permanent cookies. Temporary cookies are only placed on the user's computer for the duration of the individual visit and are then lost once the browser is closed. These cookies directly benefit the user experience at the time and include things like shopping basket cookies, which record what products have been added to your basket. Alternatively, permanent cookies are placed on the user's hard disk and remain there, recording returning visits and user activity continuously, until they are deleted by the user or expire. Their effects are less immediate meaning users often mistake them for harmful 'spyware', however they generally aim to enhance the user experience by reducing the amount of duplicate information the user need enter to a site. Ultimately, permanent cookies tend to make the site experience better for the user in the future.
The only cookies that will be exempt from the new cookie law are those deemed as critical by the ICO, such as shopping cart cookies. But these exceptions are few and far between.
- Companies will have to provide clear information on the intents and purposes of storing user information and ensure prior consent before taking any action.
- This will impact both your main website and your mobile site if you have one.
- Analytics programmes will not be able to track a user's activities unless they give their explicit consent, therefore measurability will be greatly reduced. For example, when the ICO introduced the cookie law to its own website it experienced a 90% decrease in online trackable traffic.
The key is to create a solution that enhances users' understanding of cookies and underlines the benefits of consenting to them.
- 66% of retailers are carrying out cookie audits - Make sure you too analyse what cookies and other storage technologies are currently used by your site and why.
- Ensure your mobile website (if you have one) also complies with cookie law.
- After Digital recommends utilising a sticky bar or static check box over pop-ups, as they are less disruptive to the user experience.
- Make sure that the design and wording of your solution encourages the user to click 'yes' by communicating the benefits of consenting to cookie usage.
Do you have any questions surrounding the new cookie legislation?
What is your organisation doing to address these changes and ensure compliance?