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Cookies, data privacy and a creating a good user experience on your website

Have you ever made an online purchase and then went to check your Facebook feed only to find the thing you’ve just bought is being advertised to you? Welcome to the world of cookies – or as we know it data privacy (or lack of it).

As Christmas is fast approaching online shopping will be booming.

But what if we don’t want to gift online retailers our personal data this festive season? It’s not always easy. When I’m in a hurry online and a ‘reject cookies’ option isn’t available I will go for the easy option of ‘accept all’ even if I really don’t want to.

And when I do decide that I really don’t want to accept cookies, the process of choosing which cookies to accept and which to reject has not been made simple. I often can’t tell if the preset for the cookies is off and I’m clicking them on, or if they’re preset for on and I’m clicking them off.

Cookie banner in black and white. Allow all button is on the right and is white. The manage cookies button is on the left and is black.
An example from a major retailer. The default is accept all, and when I'm in a hurry this is the easiest option!
Black and white cookie options. The essential cookies toogle is grey. The analytics and functional cookies toogle is white. The advertising cookies toggle is black.
Even when you want to manage the cookies, it's not clear from the toggle if you are switching them on or off

The BBC reported this week that it’s crunch time for cookie use.

This is great news: The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says some major websites are not giving users “fair choices” about cookie use. It has given them 30 days to comply with the law which says it should be as easy to reject as accept all cookies.

Let’s see what happens. But I personally don’t hold out much hope. Even now when online shopping with major retailers I still notice that they default to opt-out for newsletters. Opt-in has been best practice for years!

There’s some really helpful advice for businesses on data privacy and cookie use on the ICO website.

We are an ethical digital agency and support clients to comply with data protection laws. We build GDPR compliant cookie consent tools, and use Matomo Analytics, which has high standards of data privacy. Some useful blog posts from our team:

If you want to improve how cookies are used on your website, give us a call!

Screenshot of the HS2 homepage
HS2 homepage with cookie banner where you can clearly see the options to accept or reject cookies