Cookies are simple text files that a site saves to your computer or mobile device using your website browser. Only that server will be able to retrieve or read the contents of that cookie and each cookie is unique to your web browser.
Cookies are either set by the website you are visiting, in which case they are referred to as ‘first-party cookies’, or are ‘third-party cookies’ set by other websites and services that run content on the page you are viewing.
They also allow a website to remember you, and your browsing preferences, either for the duration of your visit using a ‘session cookie’ or for repeat visits using a ‘persistent cookie’ (explanations for all types of cookies can be found under ‘types of cookies’).
But some people dislike the idea of a website accessing and storing their data. And if that’s the case, you have the ability to accept or decline cookies by modifying the settings in your browser at any time. The ‘help’ function within your browser should tell you how, as will the ‘enabling/disabling cookies’ page on this site. However, you may not be able to use all the interactive features of our site if the cookies are disabled.
First-party cookies are set by the website you are visiting and they can only be read by that site. They can make your experience on the web more efficient by recording your browsing activities, such as what pages and content you’ve looked at, when you visited, what you searched for and whether you clicked on an ad.
Third-party cookies are set by a different organisation to the owner of the website you are visiting. This could be a company advertising on the site you’re visiting, for example, or a site that contains embedded content, such as Twitter or Facebook. Those websites may send you cookies and they control the setting of those cookies, not the site you are visiting.
Session cookies are stored temporarily during a browsing session and are deleted from the user’s device when the browser is closed.
This type of cookie is saved on your computer for a fixed period and is not deleted when the browser is closed. These cookies are used to save your preferences so that they persist when you return to the website.
Flash cookies work in a different way to web-browser cookies (first-party, third-party, session and persistent cookies are all set via your browser). Rather than having individual cookies for particular jobs, a flash website is restricted to storing all data in one cookie. You can control how much data can be stored in that cookie, but you cannot choose what type of information is allowed to be stored.
There are two types of website users: those who would like their visit to be as easy, quick and relevant as possible, and who (knowingly or unknowingly) therefore sit firmly in the cookie supporter camp; and then there are those who are discomforted by the idea that ‘Big Brother’ is watching them and would rather lose some of the functions cookies enable to remain more anonymous.
Different browsers have different ways of allowing you to enable or delete cookies, or limit the kinds of cookies that can be placed on your computer. When choosing your browser (ie, Google Chrome or Safari), you may want to consider which best suits your privacy preferences. To check out the settings in a browser, use the ‘help’ tab or look under ‘tools’ for settings like ‘options’ or ‘privacy’. From there, you may be able to delete cookies, or control when they can be placed.
If you disable cookies you may limit your browsing experience. For example, you may need to enter information repeatedly, or you might not get personalised content or ads that are meaningful to you. However, most browsers’ settings will allow you to block third-party cookies without also disabling first-party cookies.
This website uses Google Analytics to monitor its performance, sources of visitors and patterns of use.
Siteimprove sets three cookies; nmstat, siteimproveses and szcookiechoice. These cookies collect statistics on website usage such as when a visitor last visited the site, tracking page views and user journeys and determining if a user accepts or declines cookies. We do not link personal information collected via cookies to any personally identifiable information.