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How to configure notifications of cookies on WordPress

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Just because you might not be aware of the existence of the Cookie Law (or why you should be interested in this subject), does not mean that you are not affected by it. In fact, even if a small part of your audience is in the European Union (EU), you really need to take an interest in this topic.

Do not worry, this law is easy to understand, and even simpler to implement using WordPress. In this article, we will introduce you to what cookies notifications are, how the Cookie law affects you, and finally how to implement them on WordPress.

What are cookies notifications?

A cookie notification is used to inform users that your site uses cookies (small files on your computer that contain your personal settings for certain sites). Notifications come in many shapes and sizes, including single horizontal bars and full-fledged pages describing your cookie policy. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), for example, takes the latest approach on their website:

Bbc cookies

Cookie notifications are a big deal because they let your visitors know if and how your site is tracking their information. This may seem like a redundant measure given the prevalence of cookies, but less savvy internet users might not be aware that they are being tracked at all. Implementing cookie notifications is straightforward, and it shows a degree of transparency that your visitors can appreciate.

What is the law of cookies?

The Cookie Law is a European Union directive since 2011 stating that websites with a customer base in the EU must inform users if they use cookies and the types of data they collect. Sites should also ask visitors for consent to do so.

Overall, it's a simple directive, but things get a little more complex when it comes to which companies need to comply with. Here is the breakdown:

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If you operate a site outside the EU, you need to implement cookie notifications.

Sites targeting EU audiences must also comply with the above regulation.

For example, if you have an online business in the United States, but primarily target users in the EU, technically you are within the jurisdiction of the law if your site uses cookies. The Cookie Law also differentiates between the two types of cookies, one of which is exempt from any compliance requirement:

  • Session cookiesThese types of cookies will persist during your current session on a website. Once you close your browser, these cookies are gone. They do not fall under the jurisdiction of the Cookie Law.
  • Persistent cookies: As their name suggests, these are cookies that persist between sessions. They are regularly used for tracking analysis and advertising opportunities, among other reasons.

In the case of WordPress, if we were to take a look at any websites in the wild (without special plugins or themes), we would be hard pressed to find any that are not persistent cookies to some extent. To put it simply, if you operate a site outside of the EU but targeting its inhabitants, chances are you will need to comply with the Cookie Law.

What types of Cookie Notification does exist

Each member of the EU applies the law slightly differently. For example, Austria does not specify compliance guidelines, while Belgium and Denmark imply that consent should be sufficient. These variations make it a bit complicated to follow the Cookie Law to the letter, but most of the time they can be summed up in two types of consent:

  • Express consent: This template requires that you ask users directly for their consent to store their information. In addition, you still need to provide them with information about the data you are tracking.
  • implied consent: Just inform users that you are storing their data and that's enough. If they do not leave the site after checking the notification, this implies that they consent to it.

Explicit consent is, of course, the most comprehensive option, but it is also the most complicated to implement. A large number of sites (not only those based on WordPress) rely on persistent cookies for important aspects of their functionality. That's why the second model (implied consent) leads the pack these days.

Some plugins to display notifications of Cookies on WordPress

As you might expect, with WordPress, it's straightforward to implement cookie notifications using plugins. We will present you two plugins that will allow you to implement this.

1 - Cookie Notice

Cookie notification plugin wordpress

Download

This plugin allows you to implement cookie notifications on your WordPress sites in minutes. It supports both express and implied consent, and comes with plenty of customization options so you can tailor it to the overall style of your site.

2 - Cookie Consent

Cookie consent wordpress plugin

Download

To be completely honest, this plugin shares a lot of qualities with our previous pick. It implements a notification bar on your site, and allows you to determine the length of the cookie. What it doesn't do is provide an explicit consent option, which costs it a few points, even though it does offer tons of customization options.

That's all for this tutorial, I hope it will allow you to set up cookie notifications on your WordPress blog.

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