It’s biscuit week. Lets talk cookies!

It’s biscuit week. Lets talk cookies!

1st September 2016

As an online user have you ever felt like you’re being followed? That site you’ve just visited a couple of weeks ago suddenly appears in the ads on your wikipedia page and you wonder, am I alone? Don’t worry, you don’t have a stalker, well not in the personified state anyway.

From the minute you open Google on your computer, you are being monitored from how you use a website, the times of day you log on, to the devices you access the web from, your data and habits are constantly being recorded. This intelligent marketing strategy is to focus on exactly what you want as a user out of a brand, helping adapt and design sites that cater exactly for each user individually. This strategy helps make loading speeds quicker by watching where people click and adapting the user journey to make your experience as streamlined as possible. To adverts that appear on the website you’re on or emails that trigger after certain purchases e.g. after you buy a car, you’ll find you’ll get a chain of random insurance ads appear on the websites you’re on or emails, all to concentrate on your inevitable next step in the purchase chain. But what is it that records, stores and uses this information? This intelligent technology is one smart cookie. You’ll have seen them on numerous sites with a pop up message as you enter a site, of course we’re talking about Cookies.

Customer habits

Cookies play a big part in web design today, as companies become more and more interested in what their customers habits are, how they connect with the site to what times and day. All information helps us design the site so it quickens the user’s journey from search to result, that will inevitably retain a user if we make this process streamlined and easy. In such a fast paced world, that sees convenience and speed as many contributors to sales, it’s easy to see why organisations are investing into finding out more about their customer base. We’re a very device focused audience, more than there has ever been before, so we design for the phone to meet this demand, we use predictive text more and more as we become almost a little lazy in our grammar and spelling, but our devices take that worry for us. In such a technology correcting environment, it makes sense that cookies would sit in the top hierarchy of user interface design, helping us to retain our patience as we enter sites and evolving our buying habits by being one step ahead.

In the past cookies have taken a somewhat back seat, usually living in the footer of websites, the policy usually lists the rights and restrictions of how the website intends to use and store your information. But what are cookies and how can we use them to understand our audience?

What are cookies?

Cookies are small text files that a website basically saves to your computer or device each time you visit a site. The little files store information that remembers your actions, such as logins, language etc, which saves the user time having to re enter information each time or remembering your last session. So it’s easy to see how they can be very beneficial to companies that want to find out their target audiences habits and maintaining their patience by not having to re enter information each time.

Types of cookies

There are 3 main types of cookie technology you could come across online:

1. Session cookies
Used mainly by online shops, these are the bites that remembers your shopping basket as you wander browsing through the internet. They only have a temporary life also, they expire on close of your browser.

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2. Permanent cookies
There’s no getting rid of these bad boys, even by closing your computer’s browser. They are incredibly helpful little chaps however, as these are responsible for remembering passwords and usernames that prevent the user from having to retype their passwords. They do have a shelf life however, as by law due to data retention, they must be deleted after a period of 6 months.

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3. Third-party cookies
Third party sites will install these in hope of collecting particular information for research, demographics etc.Blog-Post-cookies-thirdparty

Bad cookie?

Many users not only fear the stalking side of the cookie technology but also that these information files could copy your data, damage your hard drive or even reveal secret information such as payment details. But as with most things online, this isn’t true. It’s of course down to the trust of the organisations and companies we volunteer our information too, of how they will use our data, such as specially targeted emails and offers. The only thing that can reveal your information loosely and carelessly on a website is ourselves, by giving all our contact details. It’s the information we supply that can cause the issue not cookies.

To ensure we are fully protected, as long as we keep our browsers up to date and ensure we select our browser’s settings of how we’d like to handle the cookies, then our security will be fine.

Cookie law

As with many data sensitive industries, legislation also touches the cookie market. Since 2012 all companies must now ask the user if they are happy to use the site’s cookies on entrance to the website. The user must click yes or no.

By clicking no we must understand that the specifically coded cookies that remember our sessions and information will not be active, so we will have to type the information manually.

Zombie cookies

A type of cookie that can come back to life after deletion. Zombie cookies are basically http cookies that have been revived, they are stored outside a web browser’s storage. They can breach browser security by their location whether on a browser or your computer itself, making it hard to remove them. These reincarnated cookies’ main purpose is to record and store information about a user outside the rules of a conventional http cookie, for marketing activity purposes. These cookies are controlled by a technology known as Quantcast. When a user tries to delete cookies after visiting a site, this technology retrieves these cookies from the bin and reapplies them, for such purposes as volume levels, tracking and IDs. There’s nothing inherently bad about these cookies, only that they store your personal information, but browsers are always coming up with security prevention software, so watch out in your settings as you update your browsers.Blog-Post-cookies-zombie

Since it’s biscuit week…

It was biscuit week on the Great British Bake Off this week so we thought we’d add to the cookie theme this week and share a few of our favourite biscuit designs and artworks we’ve found, with some amazing results.

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Who thought that browsing the internet could be so tasty…

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Such intricate icing work, that it seems a shame to eat them. So realistic.

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Of course it’s not just piped icing that gets this effect, making cookie art through painting directly on to the cookie.

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Clever little biscuits, why not use the negative space of the cookie and create a tasty interactive artwork? And of course why leave it as 2D, why not break the dimensions and make a 3D masterpiece?

Lastly, we thought we’d share this clever little gem. It’s amazing how she creates these miniature grills with the differing layers to make each part of the cookie.