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That's the way the cookie crumbles

When we say 'cookies' do you think about delicious baked goods with chocolate chips? Or do you think of those annoying things you have to click on as soon as you open any website? We’re talking about the latter.

How often have you eagerly clicked on a social media link, only to be met with a barrage of ugly pop ups wittering on about accepting cookies?

Annoying aren’t they.

The thing is, on these occasions, compliance is battling User Experience. But it doesn’t have to be that way, the two can actually live in – well if not ‘perfect harmony’ then at least can ‘peacefully cohabit’.

When a user clicks on a website and the first thing that appears is an intrusive cookie pop up, it can negatively interfere with their experience, especially if it flashes up and takes over the entire screen. If that wasn’t frustrating enough, the mobile experience is regularly even worse. Often the cookie pop up or banner is competing with other – useful – website features like live chat or help links, adding another level of difficulty to browsing.

Plus, if you add in the fact that they’re bland and corporate in tone and often visually jar with the rest of the website, that’s a big wall to climb before a User can even browse your site.

Unfortunately, in terms of compliance, these cookie banners are a necessary evil.  The cookie law is a piece of privacy legislation that requires your website to obtain consent from visitors in order to store or retrieve any data from a device. All websites use them and many are necessary for certain functionality to work. Some websites drop cookies to track behavior which in turn can be analysed for making strategic business decisions.

All sounds quite innocent? So why the cookie law, is it just privacy gone mad?

Well, yes and no. As a website owner, you need data to make improvements, to learn about your customers and what they do when engaging with your website. But when that data is abused and used to deliver more personal or targeted content – or worse, shared with other organisations – that’s when a User has a right to exercise their privacy.

If you get it wrong, you face a possible fine or other enforcement actions from regulators. But even more serious, by not complying with cookie law you could be seriously putting off customers. Evidence shows customers will avoid engaging with websites that they feel puts their privacy at risk - so you need to effectively communicate to them that they’re safe with your website. Without effective cookie notices, you could risk being seen as irresponsible and lose the trust your customers have in your brand.

So, what should you do to make your cookies the tastiest out there?

1. You need to run a cookie audit to work out what cookies your site sets, what they are used for and then add them into your Privacy Statement.

2. You need to clearly offer them the choice to accept or decline the use of cookies during their visit.

3. To be completely compliant, you should also make it possible for returning visitors to manage their cookie settings on repeat visits.

4. It doesn’t have to be dry and corporate; request cookie consent inline with your brand’s tone of voice.

There are many 3rd party plugins available which make all this as easy as possible. Some are better than others which also allow you to customise colours and certain styling. The irony is though, all cookie banners will drop a cookie on the User’s machine to remember if they accepted or declined consent.

You can’t win!

If you’re feeling confused and think the cookie law is simply taking the biscuit, get in touch, and we’ll have a chat over a packet of Marylands.

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