beautiful bytes: cookies to take a bite out of analytics?
In this week’s beautiful bytes, cookies potentially wreak havoc on Google Analytics, APIs play their part in online giving, and a shoutout for nominations for the Technology4Good Awards.
The cookie law
From 26 May, the new EU ‘cookie law’ comes into effect which means that all websites belonging to organisations based within the EU have to ask permission from users to serve specific types of web cookies to their computers. The law also affects non-profit websites and personal blogs, regardless of whether the target audience is outside the EU.
One of the problems with this issue is that most people are unaware about what cookies are and why they’re important. When you visit a website, a small text file is downloaded to your computer with the website’s name and an ID that identifies you as a unique visitor.
Cookies that facilitate the user to complete a process essential to the operation of a website are exempt (for now). This includes websites with shopping carts, so your online virtual gift stores are safe for now.
However, visitors have to opt-in to accept cookies that collect non-essential information. These cookies have a variety of uses, for example:
- the ‘Welcome back, Rochelle’ greeting on Amazon
- being able to auto-fill address fields on forms
- visitor tracking with Google Analytics.
This last one is of particular concern across the board. Nearly all websites use some kind of tracking tool to be able to analyse traffic and visitor behaviour, and optimise accordingly, with the vast majority of websites using Google Analytics.
If you’ve been putting off optimising your website with insights from your Google Analytics, it might be worth doing it now whilst you still have a couple of weeks of monitoring your current traffic flow to see if it has made any difference.
The challenge for all site owners will be how to integrate the opt-in function in the user experience.
The ICO has issued a practical guide on the new cookies regulations.
APIs drive online giving
The Guardian ran this article on the developments of APIs to facilitate online giving via social media that featured our award-winning Merlin’s Christmas Heroes app. When we built the app, one of the things of which we were most proud was how integrated we could make the user’s experience – pulling their comments back onto the app’s front page after they had made their donation.
This process was powered by the JustGiving API, and I’m excited to see what future enhancements they have up their sleeves to further develop it.
Although other service providers, such as Eventbrite, have followed suit with their APIs, I’d love to see a service as easy as PayPal’s copy and paste embed code to power a donation to allow page owners even greater control over the user’s experience.
The Digital Fundraising Award at this year’s Technology4Good Awards is supported by NFPtweetup, so if you have any great initiative or campaign you’d like to share be sure to get your nominations in by 18 May.
You can find all of the awards categories on their website here.
That’s all for this week – if you missed the first two waves of tickets to NFPtweetup 15, keep an eye out on Twitter next week!