Privacy and UX Part 1: Why you should design better cookie consent experiences

UX design plays a huge role in providing great cookie consent experiences. This blog post explores the connection.

Think about the last time you came across a bad user experience.

Perhaps it was a poorly designed product, service, or website. 

How did the experience make you feel? Confused, frustrated—perhaps even angry? 

If you were on a website with bad UX, it probably deterred you from making a purchase or downloading content.

Bad UX has the potential to evoke the worst of a user’s emotions, let alone change their mind about your company. 

And what if you landed on a website for the first time, you were met with a cookie consent opt-in labyrinth that looked like this: 

Source: Medium - Cookies UX: just stop the madness

You didn’t need that pie recipe that bad. 

The point of this analogy is this: at the heart of UX design, is the user. Putting their needs and desires at the center or your design choices will be the key to unlocking great, intuitive, and respectful UX. 

In this blog post, we’ll be exploring the role that UX design plays when it comes to providing a good consent experience, and why this is crucial to get right for your business. 

But first, let’s look at what UX design actually means, and why it matters for websites.

What is UX design?

In a nutshell, UX (User Experience) design is described as: “the (end-to-end) personal, internal experience customers go through when using a product's interface.” (User Report)

Let’s take real, edible, chocolate chip cookies as an example of UX design. What if cookies were designed as large balls instead of flat, disc-shaped confectioneries that fit perfectly in your mouth? Or what if they didn’t come with chocolate chips embedded in them but you had to add them in yourself? 

Source: QuickMeme

These theoretical design choices/ poor UX would likely cause ‘friction’ in your cookie-eating journey: either deterring you from eating more ‘cookies’—or switching to a different type of baked good altogether (unless you were Cookie Monster.)

UX design and your business

Most of us only pay attention to UX when it’s designed poorly. This is because when it’s done well, users don’t even think about it—which is kind of the point.

But when website UX is no bueno, it can have a huge impact on your traffic, conversion, and sales.

“To put it simply, UX is important because it tries to fulfill the user's needs. It aims to provide positive experiences that keep users loyal to the product or brand. Additionally, a meaningful user experience allows you to define customer journeys on your website that are most conducive to business success.” (Rocket55)

Good UX design can keep your customer engaged longer, making regular purchases easier, thus adding to their lifetime value (LTV).

Think about Amazon Prime or Netflix: most of us have a subscription, and have had one for quite some time. Is it because they offer the best selection of products or films anyone has to offer? No.

It’s because they make the browsing and purchase experience so seamless. Why would you go through all the trouble of switching?

For this reason, UX design for your website is incredibly important—from the very beginning of your user’s customer journey. And guess what is the very first potential friction point your visitor encounters? Your cookie consent popup.

UX design and cookie consent: what’s the connection?

Since the implementation of EU’s GDPR law in 2018, companies were faced with a not-so-fun challenge: they needed to get consent from their website visitors to collect their personal data, as soon as they landed on the home page.

If you need a refresher on ‘What are cookies?’ Check out our blog post here.

Translation in user experience: websites had to introduce a new point of friction in their visitor’s browsing journey.

It’s like if you were dining at a restaurant and your food arrives. Just before you’re about to take the first bite, the waiter brings you 14 different types of cutlery to choose from. You are stressed and hungry, so you just end up taking them all. A bad cookie consent experience can make you lose your appetite for that website.

Rachel McConnell, Head of UX Content at Flo, cautions:

“Far from being an afterthought, your cookie experience is the very first impression someone gets of your site, and if it’s bad, they probably won’t make it onto your site at all.”

Websites needed to work with simple and not-so-intrusive solutions to ensure their visitors knew their information and behavior could be tracked throughout the site upon landing, while encouraging them to stay on the site.

Challenge accepted. And companies got creative.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog post…