ReCAPTCHAing the importance of UX

Default avatar.
February 14, 2013
ReCAPTCHAing the importance of UX.

ThumbnailRecently, I had the joy’ of attempting to book tickets with Ticketmaster​.co​.uk and, I knew exactly what I was in for — pages to trawl through, lengthy reservation queues and a security enigma that wouldn’t be out of place on Mastermind’.

But, thankfully I was able to breathe a sigh of relief when I found out that they were finally ditching their unnecessarily complicated, un-user friendly CAPTCHA’ — after a fifth or sixth attempt, in my quest for tickets, I often feel like I am unsuccessfully attempting the latest MENSA conundrum. Considering their high volume of traffic, it’s no wonder Ticketmaster receive so many moans and groans from their customers. With stats showing that 25% of its users get the puzzle wrong on the first attempt, it is clear that the CAPTCHA’ has plagued the web for too long. After all, the system is in place to prove that the user is human, not to test the nation’s patience, eye-sight or ability at word jumbles.

Refresh! Refresh! Ah, I’ll attempt this one.

So, with frustration at the forefront of everyone’s mind Ticketmaster’s new CAPTCHA’ solution generated a lot of hype. After testing it for myself I’m not really sure why. On first impressions it seems to be exactly the same concept as the previous CAPTCHA’. The only slight difference appears to be that I was provided with a phrase I could actually read on the second refresh rather than the sixth. I’ll admit this is an improvement.

I have to wonder however, given that we are an industry obsessed with UX design, is having images that are easier to read” really the best we can do to improve the quality of user experience?


My disappointments didn’t end there. When I delved deeper into the capabilities of the new CAPTCHA’ I discovered that Solve Media, the CAPTCHA’ s’ provider, were also incorporating advertisements into their solutions. Apparently, this is in an effort to make the user experience more fun’ and engaging.’ Don’t get me wrong, the solution is nicer than before but, it’s really just another superficial addition to make the picture prettier” and an opportunity to generate revenue. The new CAPTCHA’ was meant to simplify the process while maintaining security. Yet, what we now have is the potential for unnecessary user distraction.

The real worry however, is that alternative CAPTCHAS’ (perhaps more suitable for the growing tablet generation) are being overlooked after years of text recognition ones. Designers and developers are becoming complacent, falling back on these as an easy option. Deal with the bigger issue please, they are extremely un-user friendly. But, it seems that customers have become so accustomed to the CAPTCHA’ that, no matter how frustrating, it has inadvertently become a household sign of security and trust to users. Its absence would now unsettle users.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is the best we can do. There are alternative methods of security being developed out there e.g. MotionCAPTCHA, visualCaptcha or The Puzzle CAPTCHA.

Try again Ticketmaster.

Do you see a captcha as a sign of security? Would you prefer to see alternate tests in use? Let us know in the comments.

Alistair Tweedie

Alistair Tweedie is a web designer based in Glasgow, Scotland. He specialises in creating beautiful, usable, responsive interfaces with an ardent focus on user experience. You can view some of his work here and find him discussing all things web on twitter.

Read Next

3 Essential Design Trends, June 2023

This month we are focusing on three trends within a bigger website design trend – different navigation menu styles and …

15 Best New Fonts, May 2023

The choices you make when selecting a typeface have more impact on your design than almost any other decision, so it’s …

10+ Best Tools & Resources for Web Designers and Agencies (2023 updated)

Having the ability to envision a tastefully designed website (i.e., the role creativity plays) is important. But being …

20 Best New Websites, May 2023

This month, there are tons of great new agency websites to get excited about. 3D animated prisms are a popular theme, a…

How to Find the Right White Label Website Builder for Your Agency

Web design agencies face a lot of obstacles in closing the deal with new clients. One of the most common ones is the ar…

Exciting New Tools For Designers, May 2023

There are hundreds of new tools for designers and developers released each month. We sift through them all to bring you…

3 Essential Design Trends, May 2023

All three of the website design trends here mimic something bigger going on in the tech space, from a desire to have mo…

10 Best AI Tools for Web Designers (2023)

It’s time to stop worrying if AI is going to take your job and instead start using AI to expand the services you can of…

10 Best Marketing Agency Websites (Examples, Inspo, and Templates!)

Marketers are skilled in developing strategies, producing visual assets, writing text with high impact, and optimizing …

15 Best New Fonts, April 2023

Fonts are a designer’s best friend. They add personality to our designs and enable fine typography to elevate the quali…

20 Best New Websites, April 2023

In April’s edition, there’s a whole heap of large-scale, and even full-screen, video. Drone footage is back with a veng…

Exciting New Tools For Designers, April 2023

The AI revolution is having a huge impact on the types of products that are hitting the market, with almost every app b…