Website Cookies: How They Impact Your User Experience
As a regular internet user, you may have come across the message on the website you visited:
If you are not aware of what cookies these websites refer to, you are not alone. Many users are unaware of this term. Believe me, these are not real cookies. This article will explore what these website cookies are.
Website Cookies – What Are They?
You may think of cookies as small packets that are sent by the website and stored in your device by the browser. These cookies consist of a name, an attribute(s), or a value(s). The names are used by websites and third-party services to identify cookies.
Values are IDs that are unique in nature and comprise a random string of numbers to identify a user. And finally, the attributes are information such as expiration date, domain, flags, path, etc. To sum it up, cookies stored in your device help the websites to identify you.
These cookies are of two types: session cookies (i.e. stored for as long as you are browsing the website) and persistent cookies (i.e. stored even after you have exited the website, for a year even).
Do All Websites Have Cookies?
What Do Websites Need Cookies For?
Website cookies have many different purposes. But the most common is to personalize your browsing experience by adapting the website’s features to suit your needs.
Cookies contain information like language or font size so you don’t have to input such preferences when you visit the website again. Because that website will already have customized the page according to your preference.
Other information cookies gather about you is how many times you have visited the website, how often you visit a particular page, how long have you been viewing a certain page, etc. This information from cookies is then used by the website to learn more about your preference.
Moreover, these website cookies are the reason why you could go through hassle-free automatic logins and authentication!
Should Privacy Be a Concern With Website Cookies?
Of course, as cookies evolve with website publishing and ad technology, it is natural to be concerned about your privacy issues. Cookies themselves cannot dig through your computer or device for your private information, but they still store personal information. It can happen in two ways: ad tracking and form information.
Consider this scenario to understand ad tracking: when you are reading a particular content on a website, the ad trackers will save your preferred content and serve you ads that match your content browsing preference. These ad trackers are designed to learn your browsing history, page viewing, and clicking history. And then present you with ads that are as per your preferences.
The other way through which cookies store your information – form information – doesn’t mean that your personal information is generated by the cookies. Rather, you were the one who input information into the website’s forms, registration pages, payment information, and other online forms. However, such information is often encoded in such a way that it is protected with the help of security features.
You might argue that this is a complete violation of your online privacy. But the above-mentioned example of your information is encoded to protect it from being hacked into by unknown threats is the one way websites are considering your security. The information collected from you, through website cookies, is merely to provide you with an optimal experience on their web pages, should you choose to visit again.
The privacy concerns regarding website cookies will always be controversial, but there is no denying that your browsing experience has always been smooth and fast when you are navigating through various websites. And that is all thanks to the website cookies!