Let’s talk about cookies! 🍪 Although I’m all ears for your favorite cookie recipes (feel free to DM those my way on the ‘gram!), I’m actually referring to those little bits of data your website stores whenever someone visits your site. You might not even know if your website uses them, but in the last few years, some states and countries have made policies that website owners are responsible for giving visitors the heads up about how they’re using cookies.
So, does that mean you need a cookie disclaimer on your site? I’m not a lawyer, so I can’t give you ALL the ins and outs of the fine print on if your individual business needs one. But as a website designer, I can say that you should definitely consider adding a cookie plugin to ensure your website is checking all the boxes and staying compliant with ever-changing e-privacy laws. Grab a tasty snack (chocolate chip, anyone?) and settle in for a conversation all about cookies: what they are, if your website needs a disclaimer, and the best free cookie consent plugin for WordPress!
What are website cookies?
Cookies are files with tiny snippets of data used to identify your computer as you browse the
internet. As you visit different websites, cookies are sent to your device from each one, helping them remember certain information about you as a user. Some common examples might be things like which pair of jeans were in your shopping cart the last time you visited a particular site, your email username and password, or remembering that you’ve logged into your bank account from a “trusted” device.
Does my service-based business need to add a cookie popup notice?
Lately, more and more states and countries have started to take measures to give internet users control over how their data is collected and used on the internet. To make it easier for average internet users to understand how their data is gathered on the internet, some regions have created rules that websites must let users know that cookies are working behind the scenes.
Right now, California is the only U.S. state that requires website cookie disclaimers, but things are constantly changing! So, if you have a website that does business in California or other countries with cookie disclaimer regulations, how do you ensure your site follows the rules? For most businesses, the easiest way to stay up-to-date and in compliance is with a dedicated free cookie consent plugin for WordPress.
Which cookies plugin for WordPress should I use?
The good news is there are several great plugins that make it easy to add a cookie notice to your site. Once you’ve installed them and set everything up, these plugins display a bar or popup to inform visitors about the information you’re collecting and allow them to accept or deny cookies. Here are my three picks for the best free cookie consent plugins for WordPress!
Cookie Notice is one of the most popular cookie plugins for WordPress sites and is the one I use most often. The free version gives you access to all the essential tools for displaying a simple cookie content banner on your site, and you can customize the notice with your own brand colors and messaging. If you’re looking for a complete cookie management platform that will comply with guidelines from over 100 countries and give visitors more detailed privacy management options, you should check out the companion app, Cookie Compliance.
CookieYes GDPR Cookie Consent
CookieYes GDPR Cookie Consent is another popular (and free!) WordPress cookie notice plugin I love. It works similarly to Cookie Notice – you can design and display a banner with whichever brand colors and text you’d like. But one of the stand-out features of CookieYes is that it will scan your site for any existing cookies and categorize them with one click, making it much easier to disclose all the cookies on your site. If you really want to step up your custom banner design options, the premium version offers more customized branding options and an extended library of layouts and templates.
If setting up legal notices throws you for a loop, and you want something very simple to use, Compilanz might be the plugin for you! They have a user-friendly setup wizard that does most of the hard work for you. After setup, the wizard will automatically choose custom configurations for your site based on your answers, WordPress scans, and existing integrations. To make things even easier for small business owners, Complianz has built-in integrations with plugins you might already be using for your business, like MonsterInsights and WooCommerce.
How should I style my WordPress cookie plugin?
There are a few different ways to incorporate a cookie notice on your site. Most often, you’ll see notices in a site’s header or footer or as a popup that covers the entire screen. I always recommend using the banner style rather than a full-screen notice. Why? A popup banner keeps the cookie notice message short and sweet while offering a link if visitors are interested in learning more.
Even though full-screen notices give more information up front, from a user-experience standpoint, it can just seem like one more obstacle to cross before getting to all the fantastic content on your site! The first area people see when they visit your site is precious on-page real estate, and I’d rather use that opportunity to build an on-brand message. A banner-style notice will still fulfill necessary compliance measures without blocking access or visibility to your site.
How do I install a cookies plugin for WordPress?
If you’ve installed plugins on your site before, the process for cookies plugins works the same. If you’re a plugin newbie, keep reading! I’ll walk you through the steps of installing a cookies plugin for WordPress. First, you’ll have to choose one of the plugins from the links above and click on the “Download” button. You can also search for plugins by name from your WordPress dashboard by navigating to Plugins → Add New. Once you’ve downloaded the cookie notice plugin of your choice, click “Activate,” then head over to “Settings” to customize cookie notices for your site.
What should my cookie banner say?
Even though a cookie notice is there to tell people about legal details, it doesn’t have to sound super technical. You can still use your brand voice to communicate everything website visitors need to know. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it! It’s a great way to bring your branding to every corner of your website and connect with visitors. A good rule of thumb is that if the central message about opting into website cookies is still clear, informative, and user-friendly, you can get creative with how you communicate the message.
Here are a couple of dressed-up cookie notices that add in a little extra brand “sparkle”:
Thanks so much for joining me for a cookie chat! I hope you feel more confident now that you know what cookies are, if you need a cookie consent plugin, and how to find and set up the best free cookie consent plugins for WordPress.
If you’re ready to add a cookies plugin for WordPress sites, you can download Cookie Notice (my plugin of choice) from the WordPress plugins library!