Cookies are an unavoidable part of browsing the web. These tiny snippets of plain text code are installed on browsers with the aim of creating a better user experience and improving some aspects of a website’s performance. The WordPress source code includes some default cookies, and numerous plugins also offer ways to manage cookies and keep them compliant with the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR.
What Are Cookies?
When you log onto a site you’ve visited before and your login credentials are already loaded, or you return to an eCommerce shopping cart to find your chosen items stored there along with suggestions for others you might like, you have encountered cookies. These small bits of code are installed on a user’s browser, not their personal one, during a visit to a website in order to “remember,” information, such as email addresses, login information, and personal data and behaviors. Because that information is readily available the next time a user visits the site or logs in, it helps the site load faster and provides a smoother experience for the user.
Cookies can be set either by the site itself or by third parties that provide content via the site, such as advertisements or embedded video content. They can exist as “session cookies,” that expire once the user exits the site, or as “persistent cookies,” that remain on a user’s web browser for a set period of time – as short as a few hours, or as long as a year or more.
Cookies can also improve the speed and performance of a website by remembering and
By default, the WordPress source code is designed to generate cookies for two reasons: to save users’ login credentials for future visits, and to store identifying information when users leave comments. These two cookie functions are built into the source code, so they are a part of every WordPress site, although both of them may not be activated. For example, the commenting function is disabled on some sites, so as a result, that particular cookie isn’t needed. The default WordPress cookies can help the site load faster and make it easier for returning website visitors to log in.
Different kinds of WordPress sites might also need other kinds of cookies for optimal performance. eCommerce sites need cookies to manage shopping carts, wish lists, and buyer preferences. Advertisers need other kinds of cookies to remember buyer behaviors and track which campaigns are performing best. Even analytics software such as Google Analytics can rely on cookies to provide statistical information about a web user’s location, browsing behavior, and more. For those and other site-specific functions, a number of WordPress plugins, both free and premium, can set their own cookies, with customizable settings to establish things like the cookie’s expiration period and the kind of personal data it tracks.
WordPress users with coding experience can also create custom cookies and set them directly into their site’s functions.php file. In this way, users can establish all the cookie’s values, including its expiration and triggering behaviors, such as when a site visitor clicks on a button or fills out a field or a form.
Managing Cookies on WordPress Sites
Cookies can carry out a number of essential functions, but many users find them intrusive and want to disable them. Browsers like Chrome and Firefox offer options under Privacy settings for showing what kinds of cookies have been set and for clearing them from the browsing history – or for refusing to accept cookies at all. When selecting this option, users are warned that getting rid of cookies can affect how a site performs and that not all of its features may be available. That can also mean that since data isn’t being saved, users must enter their required information every time they visit the site. Still, for users concerned about online privacy, disabling cookies can be a way to protect sensitive data.
WordPress Cookies Must Be GDPR Compliant
In response to those concerns and some very public incidents of data breaches involving large companies with lots of stored customer information, the European Union has implemented the General Data Protection Regulation to protect the online data of every EU citizen. But because websites can be accessed by anyone, from anywhere, the GDPR has a global reach, and it affects every WordPress site.
With stiff penalties for noncompliance, this data protection regulation requires every site to get users’ explicit consent for acquiring,
Cookies make WordPress sites run faster and help to provide a positive user experience. With its default cookies built right into the source code and plugins for site-specific needs, WordPress has the tools for making cookies work for your site – and for your visitors.