Redesigning the CAPTCHA.

The other day I was looking at a contact form for a new website. The intention, not unlike other contact forms,  was to allow front end users to message the people in charge. The question arose if we should make use of a CAPTCHA. The argument being that it will help reduce spam, as well as a whole heap of nasty crap that it’s best to just steer clear of.

After some further thought, it got to a point where it became just a “CAPTCHA” I hadn’t actually thought of the type we should use… Animated, 3D, ASCII, Reverse, Trivia, Math, Animals? there’s a metric butt-load to choose from. But all of these are kinda average.

That’s when I thought about using a Question based test, something that asked the user a question that would be easy for them to answer, yet not easy enough for a bot to decipher. After playing around for a little while I came up with the one you see to the right. An advert selling a product that requires the user to read, then complete before proceeding.

While something like this is not too difficult to break, so are many other styles of CAPTC

HA’s. However, this one makes best use of the web relestate and forces each users to read your creative. Think of the potential this has for marketing agencies with a large web client base… Marketing Win?

This was just a first draft, however it demonstrates a fairly interesting principal and has a heap of room to move. The current design does have some downfalls, one being that it struggles to differentiate itself on the page from other possible marketing material. And two being that it isn’t always clear what it actually is… Is it an add? is it a CAPTCHA? is it a weird guy in a trench coat?. I threw it into a mockup to help get some context.



The other problem, again facing my beloved new CAPTCHA is usability. While usability is a great concept, if we followed every aspect of it there would be nothing left on our websites. This unfortunately does require a human to interact with in order to actually perform “Human Validation”.

Human Validation is something that can be handled within the back end to a degree but not always well. This results in both positive and negative fallout. CAPTCHA’s have become such an integrated part of our web engagement, that while it’s frustrating, people often have no problems squinting their eyes, turning their head and coughing, just to read some squiggly lines. However what about the users that don’t have to? An interesting thought I failed to consider was mentioned by a co-worker, when she suggested that “It adds a sense of security”. I never really thought of it like that. She went on to talk about how she feels more comfortable filling it out than not, even if she is slightly inconvenienced because it shows that the people collecting the data, take that shit seriously!
At first I dismissed it, but she raised a very valid point. If all the sites you use on a daily basis, Facebook, Gmail, Twitter etc, All check CAPTCHA’s when collecting private information. What does it say about those who don’t?

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