If you’ve ever been asked to solve a simple math problem or “prove you’re human” before performing an action on a website – you’ve encountered a CAPTCHA. This simple feature is ubiquitous for good reason. In fact, you may want to consider adding a WordPress CAPTCHA to your own site.
CAPTCHAs are designed to protect sensitive information, block spam and attacks, and restrict access to a website’s vital features. They aren’t a foolproof tool and are best used as part of a full-fledged security plan. However, they can help improve your website’s safety and user experience.
An introduction to the many types of CAPTCHAs
A CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart) does exactly what its unwieldy full name implies. It offers a test designed to tell the difference between humans and bots or other computer programs.
CAPTCHAs have been used all across the internet for some time. Their most common form has been as a series of distorted letters and/or numbers:
A human can generally make sense of this image, while bots can get confused by the curved letters. However, there are issues with this type of CAPTCHA. It’s often hard for humans to actually read, and bots are getting much better at puzzling these images out.
So while you still see this type of CAPTCHA sometimes, simpler forms have become more common. Sometimes you’re asked to pick out images that meet certain criteria. In other cases, you have to solve a basic math problem:
Google has even implemented a new variety they’re calling the No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA, which only requires you to check a box:
This type of CAPTCHA monitors the movements of your mouse, in order to tell whether or not you’re human. New, research-based CAPTCHAs like this are likely to keep appearing over time.
The pros and cons of using a WordPress CAPTCHA
The primary goal of a CAPTCHA is to provide an extra layer of security on sensitive pages. When used as part of a registration, login, or order form, this feature can help stop malicious bots from creating spam or getting access to personal information.
Of course, there are also arguments against using CAPTCHAs:
- Some CAPTCHAS might annoy users. This is less of a problem with today’s simpler CAPTCHA options, but is still a potential issue.
- Not all CAPTCHAs are foolproof, and bots are always getting better at cracking them.
In the end, CAPTCHAs can be a useful addition to your website, but only when used carefully. You’ll want to opt for a variety that will be as unobtrusive as possible. Plus, you shouldn’t use CAPTCHAs as an excuse to neglect your site’s overall safety – they should be one part of a larger security plan.
As for when to use CAPTCHAs, they’re most useful at any point where a user submits personal information. This includes registration forms, checkout screens, and login pages. You can even require them before users submit comments, to cut down on spam. Just try to use CAPTCHAs sparingly, and only where they’re really needed.
Tools for adding a WordPress CAPTCHA to your website
If you want to add a CAPTCHA to your site, all you need is the right tool. Since this is WordPress we’re talking about, that means looking for a dedicated plugin. Fortunately, there are several plugins that can help you create a WordPress CAPTCHA.
We’ll feature two below. Each plugin utilizes Google’s “No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA”, which does a great job of cutting down spam without inconveniencing your visitors.
First up, we have Google Captcha:
With this plugin, you can add a simple CAPTCHA checkbox to any form on your site, including registration, login, contact, and comment forms. There are plenty of additional customization options as well.
Second, there’s Advanced noCaptcha reCaptcha:
While this plugin uses the same type of CAPTCHA as the one above, it offers a few more niche options for where your CAPTCHA is placed and how it appears. For example, you can add CAPTCHAs to your e-commerce pages or forum, and adjust their size and appearance.
How to add a CAPTCHA to your WordPress site
Before we wrap up, let’s look at a CAPTCHA plugin in action. We’ll use Google Captcha as our example, since it’s easy to use and customize. You’ll need to install and activate the plugin, then navigate to the new Google Captcha tab in your WordPress dashboard:
Under Settings, you can enter your Google API keys to connect your site to the reCAPTCHA feature. You’ll need to register your site with Google, copy and paste the keys you’re provided with, and save them. After that, you can select the Test reCAPTCHA button to make sure the feature is working properly:
Right below, you can choose which forms should use a reCAPTCHA. Your options include default pages like your login and registration forms:
There are plenty of additional customization options here, which are all pretty self-explanatory. Once you’re happy with your WordPress CAPTCHA, save your changes, then visit one of the forms you enabled it for, to test it out:
With that, you’ve added an extra layer of security to a few vital parts of your WordPress site!
As a user, CAPTCHAs can be a little annoying (especially if implemented poorly). However, their benefits often outweigh the slight inconvenience they present. If you can leverage the advantages of CAPTCHAs without negatively impacting your site’s user experience, you’ll be adding a useful layer of security.
To make the most of your CAPTCHAs, you’ll want to use them sparingly on sensitive pages like registration and login forms. Opt for one of the more user-friendly versions, such as Google’s No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA, and remember that this feature should be part of an overall security plan. Then, you can create a WordPress CAPTCHA easily using a plugin such as Google Captcha.