Many websites I visit nowadays have a pop up or some type of cookie notification asking the visitor to accept.  As a result, we frequently get this question from our clients:


 

Do I need a Cookie notification on my website?

Here is a summary and some of our recommendations:

First, what are cookies?

When you saw your first cookie notification,  “cookie notice” – now admit it, your mouth started watering at the idea of the freshly baked chocolate chip delight above, but now it is old news and it is just leaving you wondering what all the cookie fuss is about. So let’s look at what they are and why we have to let people know that our sites use them.

Cookies are small text files placed on a user’s device when they are on a website. Cookies are used for authenticating, tracking, and maintaining specific information about users, such as site preferences and settings. “Through this cookie process, the user sends bits of information (in text string format) to the website’s server. This data can be viewed in many forms of online tools and applications, such as Google Analytics.” Media Genesis

Cookie Law

Strictly speaking, there is not an enforceable law at this moment for companies in the U.S. to have a Cookie acceptance alert. But that being said, visitors to your site have the right to know that information is being collected and sometimes even how that data might be being used – it is currently seen as best practice for company and organization websites in the U.S. to post a Privacy Policy and Cookie Policy letting users know of the ways in which their data is being used.

Exception: if your target audience is in the EU, you should defer to complying with the EU Cookie Law even if you are a U.S.-based company – according to Media Genesis

Cookie Notice Example

Here’s an example of a cookie notice on one of our client’s sites.  It allows website visitors to view the company’s privacy policy and accept the terms.

Here is an example of a notification on a site that adheres to EU guidelines. For more on those guidelines and generating consent content.

EU cookie notification

Next Steps

So, our best advice to you right now is to embrace this concept of being upfront with your users and get on the cookie bandwagon by adding a simple pop-up or acceptance message as soon as users get onto your site (you probably noticed ours in the bottom right when you landed here). For now, in the U.S. at least, it can be a simple “just letting you know our site uses cookies and collects data” message that the user can then click closed with an “OK, I get”. If things start getting more official in the U.S. like they are in the EU, or if your site visitors are EU residents, then you may need to step up to a more complex message that allows your users to turn off certain plugins to protect their privacy.

About the Author:

I’m, Jannah Lyon, the creative director and graphic designer for Placemaking Group with a focus on Website and Interactive Design.  I keep my pulse on all things design that relate to small business marketing. For more about my background and design samples visit our team page, or connect with me on LinkedIn.