Be Like Water

Effective, custom Web design and development for non-profits.

CommunicationsDesignUsability

2 minutes to read

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Am I human? None of your business.

I am human! | Am I human? None of your business.

The Humanity!

Does your nonprofit website have a contact form of any kind? Most do. You may have a form to allow visitors to get in touch with you from your Contact page. Or a comments section on your blog. Or a form allowing visitors to sign up for your newsletter.

Are you using any kind of Captcha verification on your forms? Captcha is that test that checks if the submitter is “human.” They may have to decipher a word on a busy background. Or select all the images with cats in them. Or maybe just tick a checkbox. Whatever method you’re using to make your visitors prove they're human, stop it.

The Problem

Captcha serves one purpose: to prevent spam on the website that has the form. The problem is, Captcha puts that responsibility on the website visitor, not the website owner. It’s not your visitor’s job to manage spam on your website. That’s your deal.

The bigger issue is that by using an “are you human” test, you’re interrupting your visitor mid-conversion. You’ve put plenty of effort into streamlining your nonprofit website’s content to attract visitors. Once they get there, you want them to engage with you in some way. Few actions are more engaging than a visitor actually reaching out and trying to connect with your nonprofit directly. Why get in their way at that crucial point? Using Captcha is like telling your visitors, “You want to engage with us? Prove you’re worth it.” Is that the first impression you want to make?

The Alternatives

If you’re really concerned about spam, there are alternatives to making your visitors complete a test.

If you’re trying to protect a comments section from spambots, you could use a service like Disqus, which requires that they log in with a social media account. Spam bots are unable to do that (so far).

If your audience is on Facebook, you could use Facebook’s embedded comment form, which will ask them to log into their Facebook account first. Of course these still require the user to do something before doing what they came to do, but perhaps less confrontationally. 

If you’re protecting a contact form, there’s a technique called “honey pot Captcha,” which adds a hidden field in your form that only spambots will fill out. Only submissions where that field is empty (and thus, composed by a human who didn't see the hidden field) would actually get sent to you.

 

Where your audience is trying to connect with your nonprofit, there are plenty of distractions online that can get in their way. Don't get in your own way as well.

Have I made you consider a viewpoint you hadn't before? Or do you and I think alike? Either way, maybe we should work together?