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Simple question: is it a bad idea to automatically login a user after their registration was flawlessly completed? A majority of all the websites I visit does not use this behavior, which is the reason for my question:

Is there any reason why a user should manually login after creating a new account at a site?

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Plenty of websites do auto-login users after registration; in fact, I'm pretty certain Stack Exchange does this itself. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye May 20 '12 at 22:34
    
aren't you going to validate the email first? what if somebody used somebody's else email and you allow that guy to do things on your web-site –  bonomo May 20 '12 at 22:50
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I could let the user become logged in but with a restriction (and a notification) until the user has verified his mail or similar. –  Zar May 20 '12 at 22:55
    
well, I think it's ok to do it this way, but it will take more work to put these constraints all over the place, which can be avoided otherwise –  bonomo May 20 '12 at 22:57
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The link you e-mail the user to confirm their address should have random characters as the part that is confirmed, not the email address. So, for example, use example.com/confirm.php?key=r5te34rf5t4rdde35 instead of something like example.com/confirm.php?key=you@domain.com. If you use a link with the e-mail address, and allow auto-login, you could allow someone access to another person's account if they guess the link. However, using a random character string should allow you to auto-login a user without worrying about another user being able to guess the link. –  Sherwin Flight May 21 '12 at 7:20

2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

There are 2 reasons I can think of:

  • Confirming an email address before letting them in.
  • Making it slightly easier for a new user to set up their autofill username + password while their password is fresh in their mind.

If you don't care about their email address, then I would log them straight in. See reddit's sign up process, for example.

There are better alternatives if you want to confirm an email address:

Alternative 1:

  • Have the new user enter only their email address when signing up
  • Email them a link to sign in (which takes them right in, doesn't prompt for any details) together with a temporary password in case they can't use the link.
  • Have them set a new password and complete whatever profile details you require, giving them an option at the same time to remember their login (i.e., set a cookie)

Alternative 2:

Even better, allow them to sign up with a Google/Facebook/Yahoo/etc. account, a la StackExchange.

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Yes! To let the user test the registered username password combination.

Additionally we train the user how to sign in to our site. The next time the user visit our site, she/he know where to find sign in, and how it works.

When the user registers, she/he does it on free will to accomplish a task or access content. The motivation is high at that moment which make that moment perfect for training. There is a risk, however, that the user might feel that the process takes too long. The risk of a too long process stands in relation to the user needs and motivation. The less need and motivation the higher risk of an unsatisfactory user experience.

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Completely agree. I might also suggest that you repopulate the username field for them though when they are redirected to login after registering. –  GotDibbs May 20 '12 at 22:16
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But what advantage would that really give? If the user got their password wrong, and they get logged in, they just perform the same 'password reset' action later. There's no additional labour cost in deferring relogin. Plus, if you automatically log people in, you can repeat to them their username - letting them spot they've entered the wrong credentials. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye May 20 '12 at 22:25
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@JimmyBreck-McKye That's true from a technical point of view. The UX point of view is that we train the user how to sign in to our site. The next time they visit our site, they know where to find sign in, and how it works. –  Benny Skogberg May 21 '12 at 1:58
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@Benny Skogberg but what's the argument for needing to do it now as opposed to later? –  Harry May 21 '12 at 4:44
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@BennySkogberg - surely, we're just putting up an additonal barrier to entry for users who don't yet know the value of our service. Besides, I don't think users need 'training' to sign in - not unless the service has some particularly unusual sign-in form design. –  Jimmy Breck-McKye May 21 '12 at 9:07

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