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Session Cookies & How They Build a Great Browsing Experience

A memorable and positive user experience on any website relies heavily on the user navigating the site seamlessly without any issues—the slightest of glitches can put that user experience in jeopardy. An example of a glitch would be if a user adds an item to their shopping cart, and the moment they move on to another webpage, their cart is empty again.

To ensure something like this does not occur, almost all websites use session cookies. They have an extraordinarily succinct but vital role in ensuring a smooth user experience on websites.

What is a Session Cookie?

A session cookie is a simple text file that a website installs on its visitor's device for temporary use. It helps track real-time changes of a user's activity while on a website, such as adding items while shopping on e-commerce websites. Most websites have session cookies enabled by default as it helps the web pages load faster and makes navigation easy for the user.

Also known as a transient cookie or a temporary cookie, a session cookie is only active during each browsing session and is programmed to be automatically deleted at the end of each browsing session when the user exits the web browser. Users can also restrict the use of session cookies during their browsing sessions manually.

However, doing so can often have a detrimental effect on the overall browsing experience and the website's performance.

How Does a Session Cookie Work?

A session cookie is server-specific. This means that a session cookie cannot be read or accessed by any machine other than the one that generated the cookie. The server in question is the one that hosts the website a user visits. The same server also creates a "session ID". The session ID is a unique, randomly generated number that stores the session cookies.

Session cookies track the user's behavior on the website and help websites identify users browsing through web pages of a website. The website analytics tool would consider each visit as a new session if it wasn't for session cookies.

Session cookies help create a better browsing experience by showing them potentially interesting items based on their browsing activities. These cookies also help a website identify every user throughout their browsing session. In other words, session cookies can be considered the memory of a website.

What are Session Cookies used for?

The most common example of a session cookie is the shopping cart that nearly all e-commerce websites use. A user may browse a website for hours, scrolling through hundreds of items, adding or removing them from his cart, or adjusting their quantities. Session cookies enable real-time updates to the cart throughout their browsing session.

Also, without session cookies, cart items would not carry through to the checkout phase because no shopping activity would be remembered. However, when a user logs out of his account or closes his browser, the cart does not retain any items. If the user wants to retain the items in his cart after logging out or closing the browser, he will need to enable persistent cookies.

Perhaps the only significant difference between a session and a persistent cookie is the ability to retain data after a session has ended. A session cookie will store all user activity data for a particular browsing session as long as the session is active. Conversely, a persistent cookie will retain your information over a predefined period, regardless of how many times a user logs out of the site or closes the browser.

How can Securiti Help?

Users' privacy and data protection are of paramount importance in today’s digital-first business world. To retain and strengthen their users' trust and show their commitment to user data privacy, businesses must implement concrete data governance practices. This practice includes the appropriate use of cookies to enhance the browsing experience of their users without compromising their right to privacy and by eliciting proper consent.

Hence, a robust cookie consent management solution is a necessity for any business that wants to strike a balance between the appropriate collection of data and their users' privacy. Securiti is a market leader in offering enterprise solutions to cookie consent with its PrivacyOps framework. Its AI and machine-learning-based tools help any business looking to appropriate its cookie consent management.

Request a demo today to see how Securiti's tools can help your company.

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