The 5W's of Browser Cookies

Apr 23, 2021

Information about cookies can be confusing, so check out this simple guide on what you need to know about cookies.

1. What are cookies?

Cookies are tiny pieces of data that are collected and stored on browsers and computers. There are different types of cookies:

  • Necessary Cookies, these are integral to the website and help the website run properly;
  • Functionality Cookies, these work as the website's short-term memory, they remember choices users made on previous visits to the website, e.g. what region the user checks the weather for;
  • Performance Cookies, these remember the user's actions on the website, so what links users clicked, what pages within the site users visited, no personal data is recorded, this is purely for improving website functions; and
  • Marketing Cookies, these track the online activity of users in order to show the most relevant advertisements to the user, typically marketing cookies are third-party cookies.

2. When are cookies installed?

There are functional cookies that can be installed without consent, they are immediately installed as they are needed for the website to run as normal. Any other cookies that are not essential are installed as soon as consent is given - consent can be given through a the action of the user, this may be continuous scrolling, clicking a button or checking a box, etc.

3. Where are cookies?

Cookies run in the background, they are processed by the computer and stored in the browser's folder or sub-folder.

Cookie Consent will be obvious for the user to see, it may be in the form of a banner or a pop-up to grab the user's attention.  Below is what our Cookie Consent Banner looks like on the Motivation Digital website. The user has the option to accept, decline or view more about what cookies are installed by clicking the settings button. The second image shows what the user will see after clicking settings in the cookie consent banner. This is part of GDPR compliance and being transparent about how data is used and stored by websites - this is law in the EU.


4. Who is responsible for cookie consent?

The owner of the website is accountable for displaying cookie consent, business owners with websites must research what laws apply to them - this is dependant on location of their users and what location the website offers goods and services to. 

5. Why are cookies needed? 

Some cookies are functional and need to be installed in order for the website to run properly, for example, these type of cookies are for navigation and accessing secure features. These cookies do no need consent to be installed, the user would need to change their browser settings to disable these cookies.

Other cookies, ones that you can accept or decline, are needed to create a tailored website experience for the user, this can be from remembering login details, search history on a website, suggesting similar products etc. Some of these cookies may be Third-party, but users have the right to access information about what type of cookies are used, why they're used, and how long the data is stored for. 



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