Why you shouldn’t use Captcha

We’ve all seen it – a random, jumbled mess of numbers and letters that you have to squint and turn your head in awkward ways to try and read. You then get it wrong three times before finally being able to subscribe to a newsletter that you’ll never read anyway.

Filling in online forms is already tedious, and anyone with any UX experience will tell you that the best conversions come from the easiest to read, quickest to enter and most concise to validate forms. Captcha is a huge barrier in this process

The CAPTCHA method was designed to stop automated scripts from filling and submitting forms, usually to post spam or attempt to access data that shouldn’t be accessed by machines. And therein lies the problem – it’s a solution to a problem that never existed for an end user. It solves a problem for the site administrator, and that should never affect the end user’s experience.

Making a user’s life hard to make an administrator’s life easy is a bad direction to go.

There are other options to Captcha that don’t impact the user experience, such as:

1) Honeypot form fields
2) Are you a human (although this still impedes the user flow)
3) Track human-only behavior – such as clicking on entry fields or TABbing between them – although this can still be faked by a clever bot, it should eliminate the majority of them

It’s the big things that count

I’m a fan of Google Play Music. The radio does a better job of finding relevant music than Spotify and the Android app feels much more responsive. It also handles network connection issues much more gracefully (important as my commute to/from work goes through a few dead spots).

However, there’s one major part of the UX that bugs me – the albums and playlists displays can’t cope with long titles. In fact they can barely cope with short ones.

Contine reading

WhatsApp on Pebble

UPDATE: WhatsApp threatened legal action due to copyright infringement, so Google took down the app. I’m trying to contact WhatsApp to resolve the matter, but they have yet to respond :(

The stock Android Pebble app doesn’t do a a great job of WhatsApp notifications, so I spent an hour (whilst waiting inline in the DMV) writing a quick Android app that monitors notifications, intercepts WhatsApp messages and sends them out to your Pebble smartphone.

You can grab the app from Google Play Store.

Caffeine – keep your Mac awake

There’s nothing more frustrating than doing a presentation and your mac screen going to sleep. Enter Caffeine – quite possibly the most useful app I’ve ever installed. It adds an icon into your top bar by your clock. Clicking it toggles Caffeine on and off – when it’s on, your screen won’t go to sleep. Best of all it’s free! Go grab a brew now.