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Cookies

This article explains how cookies work, and provides some simple java script cookie examples, and provides links to a few top computer cookie resources, that let you learn more. It also reveals why you should use them.

 

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How To Improve Your Website And Learn From Your Visitors Using Cookies...

Question: How can you improve your visitors' experiences of your website, AND at the same time learn how to improve your website (or learn how to increase sales)??

Answer: use cookies

Really? Yes. Let me explain...

 

Cookies explained

A "cookie" is simply a small piece of text information which a web server stores temporarily with your web visitor's browser. (Note: cookies are *not* programs.) This means your visitor's browser remembers some specific information which the web server can later retrieve.

So they simply allow your site to store information on your visitor's computer for later use.

A basic example can be found here - example from JSWorkshop.com

Another example is the "online shopping mall" that uses cookies to add items to a user's "shopping cart" as they browse.

 

Why your website should use internet cookies

Basically, internet cookies allow you to improve a site visitor's experience of your website. I've listed a few examples to show how this can be achieved. Cookies can:

  • Store visitor preferences. This means you can present customised information to your visitor, as per their own requirements. (This is how portal sites like MSN work.)
  • Pre-fill form fields for your visitor.
  • Automatically login visitors to your site
  • Provide visitor statistics and therefore help you understand your visitor's needs.
  • Provide site metrics like unique visitors, average number of page-views, percentage of repeat visitors etc. And cookie-generated statistics are much more accurate than using log files.

(Do remember though, that people sometimes share computers; some browsers are set to reject cookies; and they can be erased.)

So not only are they an efficient way of keeping track of information, they also help personalise your visitors' experiences of your site.

And that's the point with cookies - how can you help your site visitor?

No, it doesn't mean how can you invade your visitor's privacy! The use of these small text files is often abused by site owners, but this ultimately leads to cookie-blocking software being installed and used; so do set them cautiously, and include a privacy statement on your site explaining your use of cookies! (See below.)

 

Use this computer cookie resource

CookieCentral is an excellent resource dedicated to all things Cookie. The site's described as providing "information of persistent cookies, HTTP cookies, [java script cookies], magic cookies, [and] maintaining state with cookies and more."

But don't worry if that sounds too technical for you, this site really is a great place to learn about the pros and cons of using all things kookie.

From the concept of 'em through concerns about privacy to JavaScript and CGI demo code - you'll find it all at CookieCentral.

Just do it yourself!

As ever, the web is filled with free programs and scripts that allow you to use cookies. Whether you want to use JavaScript, CGI/Perl, PHP or ASP - there are free resources that help you implement them on your site:

Privacy warning!

More and more web users are becoming sensitive to their online privacy. Rightly so. And these privacy concerns include cookies, and how your site uses them. So do make sure that you understand the issues involved, and set your privacy statement accordingly.

This article from SitePoint.com explains more...

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Cookies can improve your visitors' experience of your web site, through personalisation. Using cookies, your site may well run more efficiently too, and could provide you with accurate site statistics helping you deliver just what your visitors are looking for.

Just use them carefully, so that your visitors benefit!

(And continue to learn from the invaluable resources above, and below ;-) !)


 

Reminder: This page is about using cookies to promote your website and learn from your visitors -- please share this page

 

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