Website Cookies and How to Use Them

You’ve heard of Hansel and Gretel, right? These two adventurous children left cookie crumbs to mark their path through the forest so they could find their way home. In a plot twist, their plan didn’t work out so well, but the tactic provides a solid theory as to where the term “website cookies” comes from.

Office Woman Holding a Bread Snack While Working on her Computer at her Table.Like the cookie crumbs in the fairy tale, web cookies help your browser collect and store helpful information in order to provide a positive web browsing experience. The new GDPR legislation in the EU has brought cookie usage to light for many small business owners and consumers who hadn’t previously known what they were. Let us break it down for you.

What are Cookies?

Cookies are text data files sent from a website to your browser (like Google Chrome or Internet Explorer) for storage. The browser can then use that information when visiting other websites or going back to the same place for repeat sessions.

Types of Cookies

There are several types of cookies that do different things. They can store login info, temporary session info, and form fields on e-commerce sites. They can also track visitors’ actions to personalize future browsing experiences. WordPress talks about the most common types of cookies you may encounter when browsing the web.

Cookies in Action

For example, let’s say that you want to log in to your email. Instead of signing in every time, cookies can save your password associated with your username to automatically fill in the password field so you don’t have to.

Or let’s say that you are completing an online purchase and enter your credit card information incorrectly. E-commerce sites that use cookies can save all the information you’ve entered previously so you don’t have to type out your shipping and billing address over and over again. (Major pet peeve!)

EU Cookie Law

The new GDPR legislation talks about consent to use cookies. Previous laws mandated that websites had to let visitors know when cookies are used, and that info is often buried in the Privacy Policy and/or Terms and Conditions of a site. Now, EU citizens must be allowed to choose if they want a website to use cookies or not. WordPress and other websites are working on software to allow their hosted sites that type of functionality. It will be interesting to see how many people choose NOT to use cookies, though, because they provide a more convenient web browsing experience.

Want to learn more about cookies? We can help! Contact us today.

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