Cookies play a central role in terms of managing user experience and personalizing user interactions in the world of web development. They help web developers improve user experience and provide personalized content to the users while also allowing them to track user interactions on a website.
Wordpress is the most popular content management system and used for developing various types of websites from personal blogs to portfolio sites and ecommerce sites. Understanding how cookies function in Wordpress is critical for Wordpress users to maintain compliance with privacy regulations while also optimizing website performance.
In this post, we will take a look at the types of cookies used in Wordpress and how they help you provide your users a superior experience, how safe they are and some of the best practices with regards to cookie implementation.
What are cookies in web development and Wordpress?
Cookies are basically small pieces of data that are stored on a user’s device by a website. Their role is significant in terms of tracking user behavior, remembering users’ preferences as well as improving website functionality.
If you are a Wordpress user, you will need to have cookies enabled in your browser so you can login since Wordpress relies on cookies for authentication.
When you visit a website, it remembers your credentials, pages you browsed, articles or items you liked and so on. All of this is made possible with the help of cookies. These cookies allow us to store user data safely. Websites can offer more personalized experiences with the help of cookies and without putting user data at risk.
Basically, Wordpress uses two types of cookies which are users’ cookies and commenters’ cookies. However, there are more types of cookies like analytics and session cookies that we will describe later on in this post.
Are cookies secure?
Hashed data is the result of a specific mathematical formula applied to the input data like your login credentials. It is quite hard to reverse hashed data or to unhash it which makes cookies highly secure. Noone can unhash the Wordpress cookie data to know about users’ personal data. However, in case of third party cookies like those set by plugins and themes, you have to be a bit cautious.
Types of WordPress Cookies
Session Cookies: The session cookies used in Wordpress are temporary and expire when the user closes the browser. These cookies are essential for maintaining user sessions and storing information temporarily. They store data temporarily such as login credentials and user preferences during a single browsing session.
Persistent Cookies: The lifespan of persistent cookies is longer compared to the session cookies and will stay on the users’ device even after they have closed the browser. These cookies last for multiple sessions which means users will not need to enter the same data for several sessions. Persistent cookies can store user credentials and preferences for multiple sessions.
Authentication Cookies: As the name implies these cookies are used by WordPress for user authentication. Wordpress uses authentication cookies to verify the identity of logged-in users. These cookies help maintain user sessions and ensure secure access to restricted pages of a website.
Commenter Cookies: The commenter cookies store commenter data. It is purely for the commenters convenience so that if the commenter will comment again, he will not need to enter the same data. As you might have seen, there are generally three fields in the comments box in Wordpress which include username, email and website. So, Wordpress sets three cookies for commenters:
When a commenter leaves a comment for the first time, this data gets stored and saves the commenter time when he needs to leave more comments on other posts.
- Analytics Cookies: Analytics cookies are used for collecting data related to user behavior on the website. Most of the Wordpress users employ Google analytics for collecting data on user behavior. It includes the data about pages they visited, the length of the visit and other data. Analytics cookies help understand user behavior and their interaction with the website allowing webmasters to better optimize their website for superior user experience.
WordPress and GDPR Compliance
Best Practices for WordPress Cookies
Secure Cookie Implementation: When developing custom functionalities, ensure that cookies are implemented securely. Use secure, encrypted connections (HTTPS) to transmit cookies and set appropriate flags, such as the ‘Secure’ flag, to enhance security.
Regular Audits: Regularly check your website’s cookies to identify and address any potential privacy or security related concerns. Sometimes, there are a number of cookies set by third party services and plugins which also need to be reviewed from time to time to ensure full compliance.
Deleting Wordpress Cookies
Clearing Wordpress cookies is easy and you can clear them any time from your browser. If you are using the chrome browser, just click on the three dots on the top right and then click on clear browsing data.
Now, you can select to clear cookies from your browser by ticking the box next to cookies and other site data.
Click on the clear data button and all the cookies from your browser for the selected time range will be cleared.
However, if you want to delete specific cookies in Chrome, click on the three dots on the top right and go to settings from the drop down list.
From here, click on privacy and security in the left sidebar and then go to third party cookies.
Now, click on see all site data and permissions to check out the list of websites storing cookies in your browser.
Search for the website you want to delete cookies for in the search on the top right.
Now, you can delete cookies by clicking on the delete icon next to that website.
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