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Last week I read over Richard DesLonde's What is the most minimal sign up process possible?, which introduced me to the idea of a sign up process which requires email address input followed by an email confirmation before any other data gets collected.

Since then I've been thinking about the pros and cons of this approach and whether I should make use of this on sites I create myself.

Before even getting to the email input, most sign up processes involve the user giving a desired username and/or their forename and surname followed by a password (and password confirmation). Due to the time it takes waiting for an email to be sent through and having to click on a link within, and as someone who is fairly easily distracted by other things, I often reach the email field and find myself doubting whether I should actually sign up at all, however as I've already entered some information I feel like I should push on.

So my question is simply this: to ensure users don't leave the sign up process, should I implement an email-first system or should I at least require some basic user information before getting to that part?

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3 Answers

The most important thing is to think of your new user and have the goal of attracting/keeping as many as you can.

Your new user doesn't really know what the site is about or if the user will like it, so if they face a massive form, the user will probably leave the site or fill the form in very unsatisfied.

The solution for the new users is to make it as fast and painless as possible. If they want to buy things for example, then you ask for more information.

An example of this is Amazon. You only need name, email, password and phone number. Then you can start adding things to your basket and if you decide to buy them, then you do the form. Users feel it's less painful once they have stuff in their basket. If there is no immediate visible gain, the user will have a less positive first impression. amazon

Make sure you give the user feedback and that everything is big and clear. That always help.

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I don't think so.

If people don't want you to contact them, requesting an email (confirmation) will drive them away at any time you do it.

Problems that could arise:

  • if the additional details aren't optional, people could get angry, because they feel lied to, "Oh nice minimal login, lets do this... wait what does he need my creditcard information for?"
  • if the details are optional, they won't fill them out later
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If you want something really minimal you could use one of the OAuth processes and use their Google, Facebook, Twitter &c. sign in. Most of these will also pass you extra details, such as email address, based on the user granting your application permission.

An advantage of this over email sign up is that it all happens one go, rather than the user having to go to his email client and then come back -or worse case, get sent to another screen.

As a user this is about the only use I make of my facebook account.

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