WordPress Cookies: A Beginners Guide
Well, there’s no such thing as WordPress cookies. Cookies are cookies. Since we will be talking about cookies in WordPress, we saw it fit to call them WordPress Cookies. Quite often, WordPress cookies are a source of confusion for WordPress web developers. They are not as mysterious as some may make them out to be. Cookies store important information on your visitor’s web browser for many purposes.
What Are Cookies?
According to whatarecookies.com, cookies are small files which are stored on a user’s computer. They hold a modest amount of data specific to a particular client and website. This allows the server to deliver a page tailored to a particular user, or the page itself can contain some script which is aware of the data in the cookie and so is able to carry the data from one visit to the website (or related site) to the next. Cookies in WordPress are not different in any way.
Benefits of WordPress Cookies
WordPress cookies have no special benefits as compared to other applications of cookies. The function and purposes of cookies remain the same across web platforms. Some of the advantages are;
1. WordPress Cookies may improve user interaction on your website for repeat visits.
WordPress websites, especially those making use of a user registration or login feature, might set and store cookies. For example, when users registers or logs in for the first time, the server stores a cookie in their browser.
Depending on the length of expiry of the cookie, the user will easily be able to access your website without having to type in their credentials every time. However, this type of behavior is only typical of session cookies. Session cookies are cookies that are set during an active browser or web session. The browser destroys them at the end or expiry of the session.
If your website makes use of modern security methods like 2-factor authentication, cookies play a critical role. They may ensure your user doesn’t have to go through a tedious login process every time they log in. Persistent cookies store this type of data.
2. Cookies Can Allow You to Track Your User’s Behaviour
Potential Pitfalls to Watch Out For
1. Potential Security Risks
Cookies do not allow complex data types. They only support the storage of string content. That said, you can already see the potential pitfalls of storing sensitive session data in the browser. There is no sure way of securing cookies. The best way to avoid the security pitfalls when using cookies in WordPress is to ensure that the data stored in a cookie is not all that is needed to give access to protected resources in your website.
2. Users May Block Cookies
3. Cookies Have Limits
Depending on your user’s browser, there might be a limit to the number of cookies you can store per domain. The limitations go further in that it is advisable not to exceed 4096 bytes per cookie. When using WordPress cookies, you might however not find the need to worry about these requirements. Although WordPress doesn’t handle cookies by default, themes and plugins usually make use of this feature.
4. Sometimes Google and Other Speed Testers Don’t Like Cookies
If you have ever run insights on your website, you might have noticed an item asking you to serve static content from a cookie-less domain. Quite often, this is a big issue in WordPress. When a server sets a cookie for a domain, all requests from that domain must include the cookie, regardless of their need. As a result, this has a huge impact on performance. Static content includes images, CSS and js files needed to render your website properly.
Serving these files from a cookie-less domain reduces network round trips and allows for a faster loading time for your website. These resources are better handled by making use of a caching mechanism.
WordPress Cookies and The Law
In conclusion, in most cases, you will find the use of WordPress cookies necessary due to the possibilities they open up to both you and your audience. However, it is best to ensure you do not serve static content from a domain that sets cookies. More on this in a future post.