I've been tasked with designing a membership join process for a nonprofit.

Is there a best practice/process for developing a sign-up process that has multiple steps and also needs to validate the user's selections? Should I use a guided wizard that probes the user about who they are and then determine/"tell them" their options based on their responses (which seems slower but more user-friendly), or just give them the options with descriptions and let them choose (faster but less intuitive)?

I'm thinking something like a multi-step guided form like Turbo Tax that surfaces your options based on your responses versus a multi-page sign-up form that asks you to fill in/select all the options and provides descriptions of each selection you're making.

The tricky part is "who they are" determines their pricing/member type and their location determines their chapter selections (and is also part of their membership pricing).

Thanks for any help!

  • Have you done any research on how your users perceive sign-up processes or what kind of sign-up processes they are used to? Jun 4, 2019 at 4:57
  • @locationunknown Yes, I've looked at a number of other sign-up processes in the professional association space, but most seem to be lengthly forms without a lot of UX consideration. I've also researched the processes of retail, Saas and other online account creation processes (Apple purchase, Netflix, Hulu, Airtable, Mailchimp)... I'm really looking for any best practices on balancing speed and clarity against field capture and data validation. The gist of our research so far is that they want a faster, more intuitive process.
    – Chris
    Jun 4, 2019 at 6:26
  • A user you know nothing about, who uses your product, is always better than one that didn't want to spend the time signing up. I've seen better results breaking up the marketing deployment. Get users on-boarded as easily/quickly as possible, then collect additional info. Purchases will have certain requirements, what is absolutely essential to get a user into your system? Also, I've built forms for EMC testing that collect very complex data, it was greatly helpful then to use a single step form. The difference is what we needed to give the user to get them in quickly and easily. Jun 4, 2019 at 16:42

1 Answer 1


It is okay to have a multi-step flow for registration for a long (you need many inputs) registration flow. From what you have shared, it appears you are designing the sign-up flow where you will suggest membership tier based on some inputs. To start with, you should define the key milestones in the registration flow. Example (create one based on your use case)

  1. Account creation - A user provides the email address, basic details (thought: do basic details give you enough to make a suggestion) and creates an account password.

  2. Input for tier recommendation - User provides input for all tier recommendation (keep it short < 3, don’t ask too many questions. Also, think about the input format, prefer selection over typing.)

  3. Tier selection - User selects one of the suggestion

  4. Registration complete - All the steps in registration are complete and user can now use the services.

On the membership tier - Based on the input you would suggest the best option or eligible options (users can only select from the suggested). If former is the case, allow users to see all the options.

If there are few options, then remove the wizard format and show all options along with a by-line stating who should select it. This will allow users to see all the options and will help them make an informed choice.

Keep the screens to the minimum and remove anything which is not important. You would want to keep your flow distraction free, simple, easy and quick.

Hope you find it helpful.

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