Lots of sites nowadays offer the option to log in via Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and so on, and sometimes a standard username/password option as well.

While this goes a long way toward helping users avoid managing credentials per site, it poses a new problem: now users have to remember which openid provider they used when they registered with the site. I can attest to this myself; there are plenty of sites where I can hardly remember if I registered with Twitter, Google or what..

So the question is: should sites offer multiple openid options (to increase the chance of registration) or stick with just one (e.g. google) to not confuse returning users?

Remember that unlike with normal user/pwd registrations, password managers like LastPass can't really auto-fill a social-sign-in form for you. So offering regular basic authentication plus one social option is ok, since password managers/browsers will let you know if you have registered with a password or not.

  • 1
    Isn't the same topic covered here? ux.stackexchange.com/questions/11965/… Oct 20, 2011 at 13:55
  • @BaGi Facebook only is a more specific and contentious issue than limiting to a single OpenID, though many of the same problems apply to both. Limiting to Facebook brings all of the baggage that Facebook has (Privacy and trust issues) into the situation, while that's not necessarily the case here.
    – Ben Brocka
    Oct 20, 2011 at 14:08
  • yea, @BaGi, I agree with Ben that the two discussion overlap somewhat, but this is not a Facebook question. It's about the experience of having to remember which login option you previously chose. Oct 20, 2011 at 14:12
  • Not a good idea, as user forgets which login id he used on that particular site. Happens with this site to me :)
    – Ades
    May 16, 2013 at 10:04

3 Answers 3


Bagcheck.com had an interesting take on this issue.


They realised that offering multiple social id login methods is counter productive if the user account isn't actually linked to those social ids.

Thus, offering a "Login with Facebook" option when the site only knows about my Twitter social id only serves to frustrate me when I go to use it. Similarly if I used my Facebook ID and not my Twitter ID on another site.

Instead, they first ask for my username, and then once they have that they offer either a "Sign in with Twitter" button or a "Sign in with Facebook" button, depending on which one I registered with.

I could also link my account to both, in which case it will offer both at log in. But won't offer "Sign in with Google", LinkedIN, ThisThat, or WhateverTheHepCatsUseTheseDays.

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    This is a great user centered solution. I just want to tell you who I am and then you let me know how to sign in. Keep it flexible for me!
    – MattK
    Apr 14, 2013 at 15:27

Offering too few login types can reduce the sign up rates, but offering too many can also do that.

What the best combination is would depend on your application and your target audience. For example, if it is aimed at business users, LinkedIn may be a much better choice than Facebook.

I would try to go for the three or four services that are most relevant to your customer base rather than trying to include every option that you can. My usual choices are Facebook, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn, but that is clouded by the audience that I generally work with.

I usually recommend testing this, but live testing in your application is difficult as removing support for a service once a few people are using it will be problematic at best. The way to test this would be to ask a sample set of your potential customers which services they would prefer to use and then base your decision on the data for this.

Edit: If you provide alternate sign up options, you need to give people a way of recovering which one they used. The simplest way that I've seen for this so far is to let someone enter their email address. They are then sent an email telling them which service they used. This will only work if you get email addresses from the syndicated sign on providers that your customers use though.

  • I agree about using the 3-4 top providers making more sense than just every imaginable one, but it doesn't really address the problem of remembering which one you used... Oct 20, 2011 at 18:09
  • @AssafLavie Good point. I've addressed that in the edit.
    – JohnGB
    Oct 20, 2011 at 19:16

I think the problem here is that if the user uses more than one Open ID to sign up on, limiting them to only one option is going to cause more harm than good.

Say I have Twitter, Facebook and Google Open IDs, and I use each differently, Twitter for public web, Facebook for personal things, and Google for Google sites. Suddenly I hit an app and all I can use is Facebook. Why does this app want my most personal Open ID? Why does it need my location, my friends list, everything that might be stored with Facebook? What if I don't have a Facebook? I'm SOL? Suddenly most of my Open IDs are useless because I can't use the stupid things, and I might not be able to use your website either.

Why would you do that? The only reason people use Open IDs is because a great deal of sites use them, and the only reason sites use them is because people have them. If we start cutting off 50% or more Open ID options per site there's suddenly so much less reason to have an Open ID as a user, and as users ditch Open IDs that many sites don't use, sites will ditch them as well.

  • I think the argument for openid is for the purpose of having to manage less ways to login. And, btw, logging in with Facebook doesn't mean the site can read your friend list. That's all configurable in Facebook. But that's really not the point. The point is the tension between having to remember which login option you chose. And paradoxically enough password managers actually make it arguably easier to set up a new set of credentials with a strong password than to try to remember which openid/social login option you chose. Oct 20, 2011 at 14:19
  • That of course makes it necessary to always use those password managers though (which can be a problem on multiple PCs and especially mobile) and ruins your ability to have a consistant identity which open IDs allow. Besides, 5 options is still less than infinite options, so I think Open IDs still fulfill their intent quite well, especially as long as there is no universal OpenID everyone can be expected to have.
    – Ben Brocka
    Oct 20, 2011 at 14:29

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