A cookie. What did you expect?
Photo by Ariana Suárez on Unsplash

We Need Better Cookie Consent

Michael Moreno
3 min readSep 18, 2021

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I just wanted to spin off a quick rant about GDPR-related cookie consent messages, because they’ve gotten out of control. Before starting to write this I captured some examples from a few news websites:

Daily Express
Wired
Sky News

These are popular, mainstream news organizations, and they should be leading the way in website UX, and yet they are all too happy to thrust an aggressive lightbox popup into their users’ faces, blocking them from seeing the site’s content until they interact with said popup.

It turns out the GDPR’s webpage on cookies doesn’t say anything about having to implement cookie consent this way. Their guidelines merely state:

To comply with the regulations governing cookies under the GDPR and the ePrivacy Directive you must:

* Receive users’ consent before you use any cookies except strictly necessary cookies.
* Provide accurate and specific information about the data each cookie tracks and its purpose in plain language before consent is received.
* Document and store consent received from users.
* Allow users to access your service even if they refuse to allow the use of certain cookies
*Make it as easy for users to withdraw their consent as it was for them to give their consent in the first place.

Missing from that list is the need to assault your poor users with an obnoxious popup.

I would love to see a cookie consent message that isn’t a popup at all. That doesn’t block users from viewing a site’s content. That stays out of the way and is almost invisible.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the GDPR’s webpage on cookies has a good example of what a cookie message should look like:

GDPR.EDU

It’s subtle, brief, and undemanding. My only gripe with it is that it still blocks content “underneath” it. Ideally, I’d like to see cookie consent messages such as this at the top of a website, but out of the way of all the site’s content. Not hovering over the content, but on the same layer as the content. This would work well on both desktop and mobile sites.

Anyway, that’s it. If you’re a website’s UX designer and you happen to read this rant, please consider improving your cookie message design. Your users will thank you.

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