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I have implemented janrain's social login on my website. I am wondering how important it is to include a traditional login (email/password) system.

I believe there may be a significant percentage of potential users that are either uncomfortable or unfamiliar with social login. These users may not sign up for my site if social login is the only option.

Does anyone know of any data comparing social login vs traditional login and the corresponding adoption rate?

Is there a current best practice? Do I need to give the user an option to sign up using username/password? Or is facebook/google/openID/twitter/MS/Yahoo enough?

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This contains a lot of what you are asking. ux.stackexchange.com/q/11965/4595 –  JohnGB Oct 4 '11 at 14:16
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I don't know of any hard data but I would certainly provide an option to sign up without social login as you'll always catch some more users that way. See the link @JohnGB posted –  Ben Brocka Oct 4 '11 at 14:19
    
And besides - some users might fear that the data from your application will be posted on the social network somehow. "John Doe is watching beach girls on Eric's application" might not always be an appropriate status update :) –  Henrik Ekblom Oct 4 '11 at 15:20
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That thing lets you log in with your PayPal account? That's just... scary. –  John Yeates Oct 5 '11 at 11:00

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The usual answer to this is: it depends. But what does it depend on you ask? Good question.

It depends on, firstly, how tightly integrated your application is into the social applications whose logins you are offering. If you need the functionality of say Facebook, then only offering Facebook integration is justified. Very often we would only like to have the data (e.g. name, avatar, age, etc.) and so forcing a Facebook login doesn't improve the experience for everyone.

Then, secondly, it depends on how likely your target audience is going to either not have a social account from one of the social apps which you are allowing logins from, and whether they are willing to use them. Many business people wont have a Facebook account, but they are very likely to have a LinkedIn account (depending on the country). Many people don't like using social logins and prefer traditional accounts for each application they sign up for.

If there isn't some good (UX) reason to leave out a traditional sign in, I would strongly urge you to include one. The onus is on you to decide if there is a good (UX) reason to leave one out or not.

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I would think hard about who you expect your users to be.

Is your app or site targeted at 20 somethings who grew up with Facebook? Then social login might be all you need.

Or are you going after baby boomers getting ready to retire? In that case, use a traditional sign up mechanism.

If your app targets every age group, then two sign up methods might be the best approach.

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I am a 20-something person and I don't like the idea of giving sites access to my social network and rarely use it as my login. I do sometimes use Google as my openID provider since that doesn't reach my network and also doesn't send messages on my wall and such. –  JeroenEijkhof Oct 4 '11 at 14:49

There can be another better approach. Always create the user in your database, even if the visiting user prefer to login with Facebook or other social providers. Have the email in database and verified by user and save the auth provider (own auth or social login).

Now, why I say this. I have noticed a trend in applications. User have the choice to select social providers and register. They choose, say with Facebook, and later in time they come back and chances are they forget which provider to use. This is not lame, but what I saw in the trend, people have accounts on various platforms like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. How they can remember where they registered with which provider?

So, if you have local accounts, you can just attach the user auth methods (say Google or Facebook or both etc), and if they forget, they can always recover the Provider used to register or switch to native with generated password mailed directly to their account.

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See the question How do you prevent users from getting confused with multiple login options? for answers about your concerns –  dnbrv Mar 22 '12 at 15:54

I for one, and I can certainly say that a lot of people in addition, hate using Facebook to login to things because we do not like our FB accounts being linked and used by the site we are trying to get into. You should always allow your user to use a traditional (email password) login. If you don't, you may lose a user because they'd refuse to login with Facebook.

Choices give the user comfort. Users like to be in control.

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and then there are those that don't have and never will have a facebook account. –  Erics Mar 22 '12 at 4:57
    
and the other 400 million Facebook users that have a facebook account... :) –  Andrew Davis Mar 23 '12 at 21:52

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