You know what are absolutely terrible? Captchas. Verify you’re a human? Hardly. Verify you’ve been taking illicit drugs that make text on acid look legible? More like it.
Captchas and Accesibility
Also, have you researched the effects of captchas on accessibly? I’ll help you out here, they are TERRIBLE for accessibility!
If you’re going to spend the cash and time to build a fabulous web presence, why would you make it difficult for people to register to obtain your products and services?
Captchas are the lazy way out that costs you business. Ever run analytics on abort rates for your site when people hit a captcha?
But there are bots! And they are spamming my site! I NEED to use a captcha!
No, actually you don’t. Check out the honeypot method. You put a fake field in your form, and position it off screen with CSS. Most bots won’t be able to differentiate that the field is hidden, and they’ll fill it out, so you can flag those registrations as spam. Real people who are registering won’t see the field at all.
Flip the Paradigm
Using the honeypot method, you flip the paradigm. You make the bots prove they are human, instead of slowing down and irritating the people who have taken the time to visit your site and who just want to register and give you their money.
A majority of the research I’ve come across has shown the honeypot method to be highly effective at blocking most spam bots.
But what if someone uses autofill to complete their form, or has CSS turned off in their browser? Or you’ve tried honeypot and your bot attacks were too advanced?
Then use honeypot as your first line of defense, and if the hidden field IS filled in, THEN display a captcha as a final step. It’ll wipe out your spam bots and give folks using autofill a chance to finish registration without severely irritating the rest of your customer base.
If You Must… Use Simple Addition
And for the love of all things holy, if you must use captcha as a second line of defense, make it simple addition rather than words on acid or sounds with awful background noise or flash animations that make you lose all of your mobile sales. (This actually happened to me recently when I tried to complete a purchase: “Drag all the basketballs into the hoop to prove you’re a human and complete your purchase!” I’d love to if I could see them at all!)
Love your customers and staying in business? Then give them some honey rather than captcha induced migraines.
(Want to give this a try? There’s a great article by Karl Groves with some code to get you started! http://www.karlgroves.com/2012/04/03/captcha-less-security/ Big thanks to Deborah Edwards-Onoro @redcrew for sharing this gem!)