The first time a visitor lands on your website, a cookie is downloaded onto their device.
On the user's next visit to your site, the device recognises that it has a cookie from the site. The user's device then sends the information that the cookie contains back to the originating site.
Your website recognises that the user is a return visitor, and then presents them with information that it considers to be relevant and helpful. For example, cookies can be used to remember useful information such as password and username information, saving the visitor the hassle of having to re-enter all their login information on every site visit.
Cookies can also be used to present custom adverts or announcements to site visitors based on their interests and searches they have made within your site, or to enhance the overall site experience by storing certain custom settings, such as video streaming.
It is also important to explain that a user could disable cookies on their PC or device's browser if they wanted to.
The law on cookies disclosure varies depending on where your company is based and the nationality of your target audience.
It should be noted that the EU Cookies Directive insists on disclosures of cookies use for any business located in the EU or any foreign business that interacts with EU citizens.
Importantly, you must also give your site visitors the opportunity to decline having cookies placed on their PC or mobile device.
Businesses that are based in the US and interact with EU clients are required to comply with EU cookies laws.
However, US-based companies that solely target other US businesses and clients are not required to comply with this law.
As long as you let users know you're using cookies before you place any, you can use a banner or pop-up at your preference.
Blackmilk Clothing starts its cookie clause by giving a short definition of what cookies are and generally what they do.
Let users know what cookies your site is using and what you use them to do.
The Times has clauses that outline the different types of cookies that are used and explains what they are used for.
Users can see here that, for example, advertising cookies are used to help the site deliver advertisements based on web browsing activities.
British Airways goes one step further, providing their site users with a detailed table, giving definitive information alphabetically on every cookie their site uses.
The extract below shows only the first few lines of the table.
This might not make sense to most users but it's good to include as much information as possible to be transparent.
Note that you must provide your site users with information on how to disable cookies, whether this information pertains specifically to your website or is more general.
This is again important from a legal standpoint, as users cannot then retrospectively complain that they were unable to prevent ITV from placing unwanted cookies on their devices.
As well as being a legal requirement, enabling users to easily access instructions on how to disable cookies also represents transparency and honesty where site users are concerned, presenting your company with an image of integrity and trustworthiness.
The Times presents very clear information on how users can manage or disable certain cookies.
The TImes provides links to sources of information about each specific type of cookie, which site visitors may find useful.
When implementing cookies, remember the following key points: