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Currently my user flow looks like this:

  1. User visits landing page
  2. User realizes the content of the site is locked behind authorization, only way to get in is to sign-up
  3. User signs-up (with just an email)
  4. User receives log-in information
  5. User returns to website to log-in and view content

I'm worried that the sign-up has added too many bureaucratic layers to get to the content. So far to manage this, I've tried to turn around on #3 as fast as possible, but am still worried that by the time #4 happens, the user's interest has already deflated and they no longer do #5. What have other studies/ experiences shown?

For context, I absolutely want some mechanism to capture the user's email. I've thought about a potential alternative as:

  1. User visits landing page
  2. User enters email and hits submit
  3. User sees content

The challenge with this flow is that, although it's shorter and gives me the email, users will forever have to enter email to access content. Unlike the sign-in approach, where the password could easily be saved by the system.

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Maybe this thread can help you ux.stackexchange.com/questions/54911/are-people-sick-of-logins –  xBill Apr 8 at 11:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

A book I really found helpful for this topic is Seductive Interaction Design. It deals with the many ways we can keep the user invested in our content while we get the information from them that we need. Studies show that people who have made a very small commitment are psychologically more likely to agree to a bigger (and more inconvenient) similar commitment than those asked to make the large commitment straight away. Perhaps you can give temporary access to the site (a few pages) and then prompt them to sign up. Another way might be to have a very minimal signup that gives temporary access without going back to their email, but revoke the access if they don't complete registration.

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Newspapers use a form of this with their "10 free articles per month" model. They use other information to identify the particular computer and user (cookies, LSOs, browser profiles, whatever) and if a user browses the 11th story, it brings them to an "End of freebies" signup page. –  John Deters Apr 8 at 17:59
    
This is a good suggestion, the foot in the door way. I'll ruminate on how to embed this appropriately, thanks! –  james Apr 8 at 18:38

What is the purpose of the authentication? Are you collecting e-mail addresses for a marketing campaign?

I see another flow with your potential alternative

User enters email and hits submit

I read this as

User enters fake email foo@bar.org and hits submit

User sees content

So the user can effectively view the content without registering

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That's a great point! –  james Apr 8 at 18:37

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