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An Alternative Approach to Password Confirmation

Published on 16th April, 2009 by Stephen Lewis

I read an interesting article over at the Viget Labs website this morning, about the annoyances associated with the traditional “Password / Confirm Password” fields on sign-up forms.

The author, Kevin Vigneault, proposed several alternatives, one of which (the “Show Password” checkbox) is used in a number of Mac OS X applications. This got me thinking about a possible solution not mentioned by Kevin, which is the standard way the iPhone handles password input.

For those of you not familiar with the idea, the iPhone displays the last character entered for a couple of seconds, before it reverts to being the standard password “bullet”.

I’ve quickly knocked up a JavaScript-driven equivalent (below), using unobtrusive JavaScript to enhance a standard password / password confirm form. The password fields are hidden, and a standard text field is created on-the-fly, with a “keyup” event listener.

I haven’t tackled the task of writing the password back to the hidden fields, as this is more a proof of concept.

In keeping with the original article, it’s worth mentioning the pros and cons of this method:

Pros: visual confirmation of the information entered is provided, without displaying the full password.

Cons: “keyboard-starers” may never see the visual feedback.

If you have any comments or suggestions I’d love to hear them.

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