Why Cookies are used in web design

Cookies are small files of letters and numbers. These files are stored on the hard drive of the device you are using, be it a PC, mobile phone, or tablet. These letters and numbers are used to allow a website to remember certain bits of information, such as you live in London, or you travel to Beaconsfield, so that the user experience can be improved next time you visit.

 

How web design companies use Cookies

When users visit a website it is likely website designers will create cookies which are stored on the users PC or mobile device. For the duration of a ‘session’ on the website these cookies help to deliver the correct information and ensure the user only have to enter required information once, thereby improving the browsing experience. For example if you are using a website to find directions from Beaconsfield or Amersham to London, this information will be stored and reused later, to avoid re-entering basic information.

Web design companies also use web analytics to understand how many people have visited the website, what they have looked at and how they found it etc. This gives us a better understanding of how your website is performing. All data accrued cannot be used to identify personal information and merely gives us a general idea of how our website performs.

This overview of the type of cookies we use is based on categories outlined by the international Chamber of Commerce, in the ICC UK Cookie Guide.

 

  • Category 1: strictly necessary cookies. These cookies are necessary for the website to function. By disabling these cookies, some aspects of a website design will either not work, or not work properly, such as secure logins, location services, and e-commerce functionality.
  • Category 2: performance cookies. These cookies gather information to help improve the day to day performance of a website. By analysing data collected we can enhance popular pages, fix bugs and error messages etc. All data is based on totals and averages and is strictly anonymous. 

    For example at Melon we use Google Analytics, which creates several first-party cookies. The data that Google collects is kept strictly private and confidential and won’t be shared with anyone else. We don’t feel that Google Analytics is a breach of privacy as we are merely aggregating the data survey. The information that is collected is used to understand website trends and performance. 

  • Category 3: functionality cookies. These are cookies which provide a ‘memory’ for the website, this enables the website to remember any personal choices you make (for example, your username, language or geographic location). A website may provide local weather reports, traffic updates and other similar localised information. These cookies are also used to remember changes you may make to text sizes, fonts and other customisable elements of the website. The information these cookies collect may be made anonymous and can’t track activity on other websites. 
  • Category 4: targeting cookies or advertising cookies. We nurture the use of social media websites and believe sharing is a key part of how people access new information. Social media networks are a popular way of doing this. To enable people to share information via popular social media, a website may have functionality allowing this type of activity.The owners of social media websites may place cookies on users’ devices and they will have their own cookie policies. We have no control over these companies’ cookies policies.

 How do you need to update your website?

As the new EU cookie law carries hefty penalties for non-compliance it’s important you update your website, if it uses cookies. You should communicate the use of any cookies in a clear way and inform the user that you will use cookies if they continue to use your website. This is based on the 11th hour addition of implied consent being acceptable for most standard cookies. It’s also a good idea to provide advice or tools on how to turn cookies off on their PC or mobile device.

Speak to your website designer or agency who should be able to advise on how to update your website. If you need any further help or would like us to update your website please Contact Us.

 

Useful links

To learn more about your rights to online privacy, please visit Data Protection Act 1998 and The Information Commissioner’s Office.

The Adobe website provides comprehensive information on how to delete or disable Flash cookies – see http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/security for details.

Find out how to disable cookies by clicking on the “Manage Cookies” section of the Interactive Advertising Bureau website on the following link allaboutcookies.org

Full details of the cookies which Google Analytics uses can be found in Cookies & Google Analytics in documentation for Google’s Analytics tracking code. You can also read Google’s Privacy Policy for Google Analytics.