We spend several hours every week conducting usability tests on a variety of different websites. In our research we often see people struggle with CAPTCHA, the anti-spam solution designed to differentiate between a human and a spambot. It’s easy to see why web teams adopt this tool to avoid spam – it is clearly an effective tool. However, they are probably not aware of how frustrating users find it! We regularly hear users say things like “oh I hate these things”, “not this thing again”, “why are they making it difficult for me?” In some cases we have seen users abandon a site altogether when faced with a CAPTCHA tool.
As a result of our observations we recommend that our clients remove the CAPTCHA tool from their site. In a recent client meeting we had a long discussion about the UX implications of anti-spam tools, and they challenged us to find a better alternative, that protected them from spam but didn’t frustrate users in the process. We accepted that challenge and thought we’d share the findings with our readers. In reverse order, we provide our top 5 CAPTCHA alternatives.