Last weekend I made DayScore as a personal project. Pleased that I’d made a tool I could use every day and not expecting much else, I submitted it to a few social news sites.
Then LifeHacker featured DayScore on their front page and the users just started pouring in. All in all I got about 10,000 hits in a 24 hour period - I was overwhelmed (thankfully the site wasn’t and Heroku didn’t blink). Dissecting the feedback that users posted, one thing people consistently remarked upon is that there is no registration process.
I loathe user registrations. I have the patience of a five-year old in a chocolate factory. When I’m in “browse-mode” clicking around Reddit or Hacker News, those precious 10 seconds you’re taking from me to fill out your form is time I could have spent skimming 30 article titles searching for the juicy content that I crave. The truth is that if I see a registration form I’m probably going to bounce. If I see one that asks for more than just my email and password then it’s almost certain I’m going to bounce. And if I see one that seems to suggest that signing up will be anything more than a one-step process (eg I need to confirm my email, or fill in another page of forms) then it’s a definite bounce.
It’s easy to say “well it’s just 10 seconds” but really it’s not. A successful site might be lucky to see 5% of users return after they first sign up. If I only return to 1 in 20 sites that I sign up to (and I’m being very generous here), then each site I end up liking costs me 200 seconds of form-filling.
Of course, registration forms do have their place. I’d feel unsafe if it didn’t take me at least four days and seventeen documents proving my identity to sign up for a bank account. But I think there are an awful lot of sites out there with unnecessary barriers to entry. Some even seem to take pride in asking for more than they need, as if to say “look how sophisticated our software is - it needs your postcode and date of birth just to work!”
So for anyone out there that’s listening, I’m asking you, begging you, to forgo your registration process. If you can’t get rid of it completely, at least let people try it out “for free” and poke them with “hey it looks like you’ve been using our app for a while, why don’t you register so you can save your changes for next time?”
On a related note, I’m very excited about Mozilla’s Persona. This is the kind of technology that will lead to no-click registrations and end my suffering once and for all.