Just because you might not be aware of what the Cookie Law is (or why you should care about it), doesn’t mean you’re unaffected by it. In fact, if even a small part of your audience resides in the European Union (EU), you definitely need to learn about it.
Don’t worry, though! The law itself is easy to understand, and even simpler to put into action using WordPress. In this article, we’ll explore what cookie notifications are, how the Cookie Law affects you, and finally how to implement them in WordPress.
What Cookie Notifications Are
Cookie notifications are a big deal, since they enable your visitors to know if and how your site tracks their information. It may seem like a redundant measure considering the prevalence of cookies, but less savvy web users might not be aware they’re being tracked at all. Implementing cookie notifications is simple, and it shows a degree of transparency that your visitors may appreciate.
What the Cookie Law Is
The Cookie Law is a European Union Directive from 2011 stating websites with a customer base in the EU need to inform users if they’re using cookies and the types of data they’re gathering. Sites also need to ask for the visitors consent to do so.
All in all, it’s a straightforward directive, but things get a bit more complex when we talk about which businesses need to comply. Here’s the breakdown:
- If you operate a website out of the EU, you need to implement cookie notifications.
- Websites targeting EU audiences also must comply with the above regulation.
- Session cookies: These types of cookies only persist during your current session on a website. Once you close your browser, these cookies are gone. They don’t fall under the jurisdiction of the Cookie Law.
- Persistent cookies: As their name implies, these cookies persist across sessions. They’re regularly used for tracking analytics and advertising opportunities, among other reasons.
In WordPress’ case, if we were to take a look at websites in the wild, we’d be hard-pressed to find one that didn’t rely on persistent cookies to some extent. To put it simply, if you operate a website out of the EU or targeted towards its residents, chances are you’ll need to comply with the Cookie Law.
What Types of Cookie Notifications There Are
Each member of the EU enforces the law slightly differently. For example, Austria doesn’t specify any compliance guidelines, whereas Belgium and Denmark deem implied consent to be sufficient. These variations make it somewhat complicated to follow the Cookie Law to the letter, but they mostly boil down to two types of consent:
- Explicit consent: This model requires that you directly ask users for consent to store their information. What’s more, you still need to provide them with information about what data you’re tracking.
- Implied consent: Simply notifying users you’re storing their data is enough. If they don’t leave the website after checking out the notification, they’re implying they consent to it.
Explicit consent is, of course, the most comprehensive option – but it’s also the most complicated to implement. A lot of websites – not only those based on WordPress – rely on persistent cookies for significant aspects of their functionality. That’s why the second model – implied consent – leads the pack these days.
2 Tools for Adding Cookie Notifications to Your WordPress Site
As you might expect, WordPress makes it simple to implement cookie notifications by using plugins. We’re going to introduce you to two of our favorite plugins to do so, then teach you how to put one of them into action.
This plugin enables you to implement cookie notifications onto your WordPress sites in a matter of minutes. It supports both explicit and implied consent, and comes with plenty of customization options so you can adjust it to your site’s overall style.
- Implements cookie notifications through footer or header bars.
- Supports both explicit and implicit consent methods.
- Enables you to specify which cookies won’t load if a user refuses to provide consent.
- Lets you set the length before persistent cookies expire.
- Provides you with several customization options.
Price: FREE | More Information
To be completely honest, this plugin shares a lot of qualities with our previous choice. It implements a notification bar on your website, and enables you to determine the cookie’s length. What it doesn’t do is provide an option for explicit consent, which costs it a few points in our book – even if it makes up for it with tons of customization options.
- Implements a cookie notification located at your header, footer, or at the side of your website.
- Ability to determine on which pages your notification will appear.
- Supports implicit cookie consent.
- Provides you with several customization options, and can inherit your theme’s style.
Price: FREE | More Information
Setting Up Cookie Notifications in WordPress
Both plugins share a lot of functionality, but we’ve decided to go with Cookie Notice for this tutorial. That way, we can cover the options for implementing both explicit and implicit consent.
To kick things off, install and activate the Cookie Notice plugin. As soon as you do so, it will enable a notification bar at the bottom of your WordPress website:
Naturally, you should customize it to your liking before making the change permanent. To do that, head into Settings > Cookie Notice. The first option you’ll see enables you to modify the notification’s core message. We trimmed it down a bit, since we also need to include a link to further information about our policy:
Further down, you get the option to determine whether scrolling implies consent. As far as we’re concerned, you shouldn’t enable this option if you decide to go with explicit consent, but it’s your call. Next, you can configure the length of your persistent cookies. The default of 30 days is good enough for us:
That’s it for the plugin’s main settings. There are also some design configuration settings, which we’ll leave up to you!
Given how long it takes to completely set up (i.e. minutes), and that you can just as easily set up both implicit and explicit cookies, it’s a no-brainer to remain on the right side of the law using a dedicated plugin.
Cookie Notifications and Divi
Both the plugins we talked about today are fully compatible with the Divi theme. You don’t need to tweak with any aspect of your Divi site to get them working either. Just configure the plugins as you would otherwise, and tailor the customization options to suit:
For the sake of stylistic consistency, we recommend you change your cookie notification’s color theme to match your home page. Just head back into the customization settings section we mentioned earlier, and update the colors as seen below:
That’s all there is to it!
Simply put, ensuring your website is compliant with the Cookie Law is a good decision. Enabling cookie consents in WordPress doesn’t just put you on the right side of the law, it also lets users know you take their privacy seriously.
In addition, it’s very easy to do – as you’re now aware after reading our tutorial. Simply follow these steps to comply fully with the Cookie Law:
- Install and activate the Cookie Notice plugin.
- Customize the notification to your liking.
What’s your opinion on cookie notifications – a necessity in today’s security conscious world, or a waste of time? Subscribe and share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
Article thumbnail image by lastspark / shutterstock.com.