Usability researcher Jakob Nielsen’s recent column advocates a fundamental change to password field design on the web. He believes that the time has come “to show most passwords in clear text as users type them,” abandoning the traditional approach that displays a series of asterisks or bullets in place of the actual password.

People get frustrated and often reset passwords that they haven’t actually forgotten simply because they’ve mistyped. Providing clear feedback with unobscured letters will reduce errors, improve the user experience, and lessen the need for insecure alternatives.