Performance  cookies are those which collect information about how visitors use a website. This will include “analytics” cookies such as those used byGoogle Analytics to count visitor numbers and see how people move around the site. The information collected is anonymous and is only used to improve how the website works, not to target individuals

Performance cookies are those which collect information about how visitors use a website. On this site Google Analytics cookies count visitor numbers and see how people move around the site. The information collected is anonymous and is only used to improve how the website works, not to target individuals.

Cookie Compliance

A  law hit the headlines a few years ago about the use of 'Cookies' on websites. You might be wondering how to make sure your website is compliant; the advice out there is quite confusing - my research has shown up quite a lot of conflicting information, so here's my response and advice:

Firstly - don't panic, I can help you reach compliance!

The ICO (Information Commissioner's Office) are the people who are responsible for enforcing this new law. They have indicated that they are only going to be investigating websites that they receive cookie-based complaints about, rather than checking the compliance of every website in the UK. This gives you time to make the changes to your website.

What are Cookies?

Small text files (called cookies) are saved to your computer or mobile device when you visit certain websites. They can keep track of what's in your shopping basket, or let the website know you are a returning visitor. You see, cookies are actually quite useful bits of code!

Levels of Cookies

The ICO have categorised Cookies into 4 different levels, and they get more intrusive the higher the number:

  1. Strictly Necessary - Shopping basket contents, log-in details and other essential things related to what the visitor asks the website to do. No consent required.
  2. Performance - Including things like Google Analytics, anonymous data used to monitor website statistics like visitor counts etc. Explicit consent required ideally, but unlikely to get you in trouble as long as implicit consent is gained by explaning to your web visitors how you use cookies, thus allowing them to leave the site if they wish.
  3. Functionality - Changing region, font size etc that is retained between visits to a website. Explicit Cookie consent required.
  4. Targeting/Advertising - Tracking users across multiple websites, tailoring adverts to their browsing history and other creepy monitoring. Explicit Cookie consent required. I call this type of cookie a 'Shoe Stalker' as the shoes I look at on one website keep following me onto other websites I visit! Not that I'm a shoe addict of course................... Noooo!

How I use Cookies

Most of the websites I design and build (certainy all of the 'CMS' Content Management System sites) use level 2 cookies for Google Analytics. E-commerce websites will also use level 1 Cookies for shopping basket contents and customer log-in info.

Summary

If you haven't already, now is the time to:

  • Amend your company 'Terms of Business' to include a Cookie Use and Privacy Policy* statement about how your site uses Cookies.
  • Make sure your Terms of Business are available to view/download on your website. The link to your Cookie Use and Privacy Policy needs to be quite prominent.
  • Add some text into the footer of your site explaining how you use Cookies

*I used a free template from the Business Link website for my own Cookie Policy section in my Terms of Business

Another recommendation is adding a cookie opt-in button on the home page, this allows visitors to opt out of receiving cookies from your site. I'd certainy recommend this if you have level 3 or 4 cookies on your site, but you may want to add a concent button, even if you're only using level 1 and 2 cookies. This type of cookie consent button will mean that your Google Analytics results are affected, as only those who opt-in will appear in the Analytics reports.

 

To read more about the ICO and Cookie Compliance, please visit the ICO website: http://www.ico.gov.uk/

Rememeber, I'm a graphic designer, not a lawyer, so If you need further advice or clarification, please contact the ICO or your own legal people.

Please get in contact if you'd like me to make any changes to your site.