The accept cookies banners have destroyed users expectations

July 12th, 2019 by Anthony R.

This is not a light statement but one that we have looked at over the last few months. A while ago we added the option to disable analytics on our services with a click of a button, we also made it the first and largest option. This was fully inspired by Troy Hunt when he posted about cookies in the article These Cookie Warning Shenanigans Have Got to Stop. We have always been pro user privacy so we figured we can do this better.

Say hello to our little box as of yesterday...

We within a few days launched our opt out box, and we did so without any data into what users picked, but after Troy asked us to keep track of the usage we started logging (anonymously) clicks on each button.

So what does the data show

At the start we where glad to see about 75% of visitors clicked Disable analytics, but that did not last long. 2 weeks later the percent of visitors clicking disable and not close was 36% percent, and as of today around 3 and a half months later the users who turned tracking off is now 19.53%. As Troy noted on the 2 weeks stats "I wonder if that actually means 64% of people want to be tracked... or just don’t read the text!". We think this now shows that the average user is trained to click close on all the cookie and tracking popups. Internally with staff and when asked we do say to click disable so the actual percent might be lower.

Bad design and lack of user options

The way visitors just click close is down to training, over the last few years in part thanks to GDPR and other regulations made site owners scramble to place messages on sites without giving users the option of turning off tracking. Although sites do this it does NOT help the visitors with most sites having a Take it or leave attitude to consent to track.

To website owners

Don't make hard to understand messages, don't make it hard for visitors to disable. Also don't pull tricks like CookieBot that is a site to help setup cookie consent messages who's own message disappears if you touch the mouse and scroll. Tricks like this hurts visitors and actually breaks GDPR as you are not getting users informed consent if they cant even interact with the box.

What we are changing about our options

We are now showing the disable action as a larger option to see what kind of change it makes, we want visitors to make informed consent to allowing analytics. We will be changing this over time to see what works best. We have also made the message shorter, we don't want to guilt visitors into clicking close because "it helps improve our service".

We don't care about the analytics

Before you ask "why would they even offer this?" the real reason is we don't need the data, a small percent of visitor analytics is all we need to see how visitors use our site. We don't even use external analytics for our status, we use a lot of autonomous data related to the panel usage and visitor stats that this button disables is hosted internally and not shared with a third party at all.