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January 10, 2013

We have all seen them, those annoying little squiggly letters with lines, symbols, and characters that are hard to read at the end of online forms. Yes, that’s right, the “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, better known as the CAPTCHA.

The purpose of the CAPTCHA is really quite simple. It acts as a verification that the individual filling out the form is a human instead of a computer. In return, this cuts down on the amount of spam submissions but annoys the human that’s trying to match the cryptic letters, because they happened to forget their secret decoder ring in their cereal box.

Not only that, but as a website owner you could potentially lose submissions from your website, simply because people might not have the patience to try to guess these squiggles or constantly refreshing the CAPTCHA until they find one that can be read. Depending on your website, this could mean a loss of business. Ideally, your website should be user friendly and not irritate the person using it.

Luckily, there is an alternative.

A company called Are You A Human, created a CAPTCHA alternative. Instead of making your users mad, you simply let them play a game. Who doesn’t like to play games? These games are really easy, so hopefully, you’ll “win” everytime. For example, one game asks you to “Add toppings to the pizza.” You’re presented with a pizza and three items (a mushroom, shoe, and anchor). All you need to do is grab the mushroom and drag it to the pizza and done. You’ve verified yourself as a human and can submit your form entry.

The best part is…it’s free. If you happen to use WordPress or Drupal, Are You a Human, offers easy to use plugins. Other plugins are available, along with libraries for PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python, Microsoft.NET, and Java. A paid option is available if you require any specific features or support.

So what are you waiting for? Make your website a little more user friendly and try this CAPTCHA alternate.

John is a designer at Sephone.

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