The web is crowded with UI solutions that we’rve inherited from the past, but are still applied because ”everybody else does it”.
Most of the time it’s good to adapt to conventional user interface design patterns. Take in consideration that these conventions are well working because they’ve already been introduced and tested for usability. No explanations or instructions manuals are needed.
But it might occur that a convention complicates a task, slows a user down or increases the chances of user error, and then a new approach is needed.
New approach of the password field
The bullets that appear when you type a password, password masking, became a normal practice in user interface design for computer screens. The reason for that was to keep your password safe from bypassers’ prying eyes.
However, passwords have had a lot of usability issues- complex security requirements, difficult to use input fields and others. And now with the constraints and capabilities of mobile devices we are forced to rethink such standards.
There is an ongoing debate and the people who are in favor of password masking argue that users may still need to enter password on a non-private screen.
Security should of course be balanced with user experience. You can’t favor security too much over the user experience, cause then your site will probably be a misery to use. And you can’t favor the user experience too much over security cause then your users might feel anxious about using your site.
The key is harmony and once you find that balance between security and user experience then your users will use your website without hesitation, even though it doesn’t follow every design convention.
The simple answer to the consideration is to provide users with an option to decide whether they would like to hide or unmask their passwords as they type.
Papayl and LinkedIn addressed the password masking problem by implementing a hide/show text based interaction.
Bookings.com allows you to reveal/ hide your password with tapping a checkbox.
Twitter has opted to let people hide and show their passwords by tapping on an open/closed eye icon.
I think these examples are a fantastic way to show case how we can rethink the password field. Giving the user the choice of viewing the password masked or unmasked puts the power of the level of security in their hands.
Sometimes you need to break the rules to make the world a better place and if you dare to take on the challenge, make sure your solution is better than the existing pattern.