Chad Perrin: SOB

3 April 2008

required cookies == bad design

Filed under: Geek — apotheon @ 10:23

Is your website requiring cookies?

No.

Are you sure?

Yes.

Maybe you should actually visit your own site on a computer you haven’t used to do so before, and deny all cookies for the site. See what happens.

Earlier today was the third time in about a week that I visited a website that, when I refused all cookies, entered an annoying perpetual reload loop without ever getting to the point that anything displays in the browser. In two out of three cases, I was looking for information I could easily find somewhere else instead so, rather than deal with the minor annoyance of un-blocking cookies for a website I had no intention of ever visiting again, I just did a Google search.

Once in a while, I come to a website that I have no intention of visiting a second time, because I’m just looking for one thing, or just following a link — and, upon seeing the site, I become intrigued with its content and stick around, reading other pages. Sometimes, such sites even end up getting added to my syndication feed. In other words, once you get your foot in the door (once you get someone to visit the site, that is), your chances of making a sale (getting someone to actually come back to the site regularly) increase dramatically — from zero to, well, some chance.

If I never get past your constant reloading with no content displayed, I’ll never subscribe, I’ll never click on any of your ads, and I’ll never read any of your content. One customer lost.

If I never read any of your content or subscribe, I’ll never talk about the great stuff I saw on your site here at SOB, I’ll never use it as grist for my articles at TechRepublic’s IT Security weblog, and I’ll never drive hundreds of visitors to your site with a well-placed reddit link. Sure, most netizens are idiots who have no conception of concepts like privacy and security, and they all accept every single friggin’ link that comes their way — I’m part of a minority. On the other hand, the vast majority of people who deny a bunch of cookies on a regular basis are technically astute people like me who are well-connected online, understand the dynamics of online marketing more than most, and want to share what they like with others as much as reasonably possible. Think of all the traffic your site loses when you keep me (and people like me) out because of some asinine design decision that breaks your website for anyone that doesn’t accept a cookie or sign up for a user account.

The same goes for Flash-only sites, websites that are completely broken with JavaScript turned off, anything that becomes unusable without CSS, automatically playing music (just for the annoyance factor), and — perhaps worst of all — requiring Java for your website to work properly. Seriously, folks, get a grip. You’re driving away or excluding customers and, even worse, denying people the ability to market your site for you for free just because they might like it if you let them in.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License