CAPTCHAs make it more difficult for bots to submit fraudulent information via online forms, but they can also get in the way of humans interacting with your website.
It can be frustrating for users to be served CAPTCHAs as they can be deceptively difficult to solve, and end up wasting a lot of your customer’s time.
Differences in how people interpret CAPTCAs can create unintended challenges for visitors. For example, a user may be prompted to click all the squares in the below image that contain a fire hydrant:
People in Mountain View, California will click the three bottom squares on the left without hesitation because they see a familiar red hydrant. A few will click all four squares on the left because the little antenna on the top is technically part of the fire hydrant. Somebody from Tokyo, Japan might hit the “SKIP” button, because their fire hydrants don’t look like the one in the picture. Billions of non-native English speakers might not know what a fire hydrant is and it may not translate correctly.
Indiscriminate use of CAPTCHAs invariably makes your website harder to use. A large-scale study from Stanford on how easy it is for humans to solve CAPTCHAs confirms this, showing that, on average:
The research indicates that when you add CAPTCHA to your site, it reduces conversions. MOZ.com performed a side-by-side comparison of sites with CAPTCHA on and off, and found that:
...with CAPTCHA on, there was an 88% reduction in SPAM but there were 159 failed conversions. Those failed conversions could be SPAM, but they could also be people who couldn’t figure out the CAPTCHA and finally just gave up. With CAPTCHA on, SPAM and failed conversions accounted for 7.3% of all the conversions for the 3 month period. With CAPTCHA’s off, SPAM conversions accounted for 4.1% of all the conversions for the 3 month period. That possibly means when CAPTCHA is on, the company could lose out on 3.2% of all their conversions!
The consequences for sending web traffic through difficult processes are real. If a user gets frustrated and leaves your site there’s a strong chance they won’t come back. That’s why it’s important to find ways to make the user experience easier.
If you are worried about the impact of CAPTCHAs on your conversion rates but still need to contend with bot attacks and spam, there are a few options:
There are many options on the market today for lower-friction CAPTCHAs that have a more friendly design for users.
Google’s reCAPTCHA includes a ‘frictionless fraud detection service’ that attempts to identify automated attacks, while allowing trusted users to bypass verification. This means that less of your trusted traffic has to interact with the CAPTCHA at all, and only more suspicious visitors will be put to the test.
However, there are a few reasons you may want to avoid using Google’s reCAPTCHA technology despite its benefits:
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