Why cookie categories are important

2 min read

Georgia Iacovou

15 Jan 2020

It’s not enough to tell your users that you want to set cookies — you also need to tell them why

Your site needs cookies to work as you intend it to. But do your users know that? Under current regulation standards (e.g. the GDPR) and upcoming ones like the ePrivacy Regulation, you have to either notify your users of what cookies you’re setting, or ask them for consent before setting anything.

For essential cookies, simply notify your users. Essential cookies are things that stop your site from breaking: staying logged in, shopping baskets, etc.

For non-essential cookies you have to ask your users before setting anything. Non-essential cookies are ones that are used for things like advertising, analytics, audience segmentation, and embedded media (like Youtube videos).

And guess what? In both cases, it’s best practice to outline the purposes of those cookies.

Why outlining purposes is so important

Firstly, clicking a button that says ‘yes’ on it, with no idea about what it means, is not consent under current standards. Your users need to be properly informed so that they have what they need to actually make a decision. For example…

“Do you accept cookies?” ≠ “Is it okay if we set a cookie to understand how you interact with the page?”

The first question is more concise than the second… but it also isn’t fair. A lot of the features on this site use cookies, and you can see this outlined neatly in our widget.

screenshot of metomic cookie widget in use Screenshot of Farmdrop’s homepage, with our cookie widget in the bottom right.

Secondly, the upcoming ePrivacy Regulation has much more rigorous cookie rules — ones which stipulate that your cookie solution should be clear, easy to use, and outline what your cookies are actually for.

screenshot of details of a Micropolicy Take a look at how Squarecat do this on their web app Leave Me Alone

Here’s what Squarecat have done with the 390px by 295px of space that we give them on our cookie widget:

👉 TL;DR: as regulations get tighter, it’s important not to just throw cookies at your websites and products and hope no one minds. Just spend a bit of time making digestible descriptions of your cookie purposes. Your users will appreciate the transparency 🤓

the author

Georgia Iacovou

Content Writer, Metomic