I’d be willing to bet that no one has ever gotten to the end of a form on the Internet and been happy to see a CAPTCHA.

They’re a necessary evil in web design. Or are they?

This week, we’re going to answer the questions once and for all:

Do your enquiry forms need CAPTCHAs? And do they hurt your number of leads?

Before we start, I’m going to make sure everyone knows what a CAPTCHA is.

It’s a short test that looks like this, designed to filter out bots. That way, any responses to the form must be from human users.

CAPTCHAs do what they’re supposed to, but the question is, are they also filtering out real potential customers?

Marketing researcher Casey Henry decided to test it out with a six month case study on fifty different websites of varying ages, and with forms asking only common information.

For three months, half the sites had CAPTCHAS and the other half didn’t, and for the next three months this switched.

Every website got a turn being both with and without CAPTCHAs on their forms.

In the three months with the CAPTCHAs off, Henry recorded 2,134 total conversions, with 91 spam conversions.

There were no failed conversions.

With the CAPTCHAs on, the websites recorded 2156 total conversions, with 11 spam conversions, and 159 failed conversions.

A failed conversion is when a someone couldn’t successfully fill out the captcha.

How many times have you tried to figure out the misshapen letters in a captcha and failed?

So, while spam conversions can be cut down to nearly nothing, it is potentially costly in that it filters out wanted traffic as well.

A study at Stanford found even more troubling information: the presence of CAPTCHAs reduces form conversions by up to 40%.

The simplest solution is to not have CAPTCHAs. This isn’t ideal because you’re still using your valuable time sifting through spam conversions.

A slightly more complicated alternative is what’s called a honeypot.

A honeypot is an invisible entry on your form that only bots can see.

That way, when a form is returned with that section filled in, you know at a glance that it can safely be ignored.

Take a look at the forms on your website and see if a honeypot might be better suited.


Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.