Minutes ago I finished reading one of that “client service vs client” jokes that was supposed to be funny. And it’s not! We’re arguing about modal windows and other GUI issues with usability nazis. Jacob Nielsen tells about the top ten usable inventions of 2008 (some of them are subject to discuss). And we still don’t see what we input when we enter passwords. That sucks.

Especially it sucks, because most people who’d it could help stick their passwords on sticky notes to their display. And I am pretty aware that no one’s standing behind me when I am at home alone. I am not hero of Sixth Sence, I for sure know there are no ghosts. And even if there are some, I’m not afraid if they read my emails or something. I want to see what I enter using my keyboard just because I expect computer to show what I enter. Every user knows for sure that typing “a” on the keyboard he makes the same “a” appear on the screen, not • or *. It’s the way computer were made and what’s they were made for!

Safe password input keyboard — doesn't matter what key is pressed, you input • anyway

Okay, if we (or I’d better say GUI developers) are paranoids and can’t get rid of dots or asterisk, let’s think of the usable solution. The best solution I saw so far was on iPhone, where you see the last entered character which then turns the dot.

That's the way you see what you type and satisfy your hidden paranoid

At least I can see that “a” to “•” transformation and understand it. And if somebody traitorously jumps out of my back to see my most secret password in the world, that evil spy would be able to see only dots and maybe the last character entered. Okay, we have usable function to enter passwords for paranoids, but, damn, gimme ability to turn that •’s and *’s off — I want to enter what I enter, not just clone “secret” characters.

Mac OS X shows you if you have Caps Lock turned on entering the password

I am quite sure that showing the text would solve many usability problems like Caps Lock turned on while entering password. Any user can see that he’s entering CAPITAL LETTERS even without neat icon if we show him what he is really typing.

If it is considered to be ok for wifi routines, why can't it be OS-wide?

Oh, I’d better not enter any password to access my last.fm or statistics account — nothing secret there, login would be enough. I won’t die if any person sees my friends on last.fm or thousands of readers subscribed to my RSS. But that’s another topic to discuss including that awful “your password is too weak, enter tougher one”. I adore my “aaaaaa” weak password! It reminds me of happiness and singing!

Passwords and working with them are the most unusable nowadays, aren’t they?


Looks like it took Jakob Nielsen couple of months to check referrers, read my post and agree with me. Link back would be nice ;)