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To put things into context, we have an app that lets users earn money by just learning.

Because of this, we have to be quite strict about which users are allowed to sign up as we obviously have limited funds and we only want "authorized" users to be able to use the app.

We've created an access code system and previously we'd ask how they heard about the app and then after they select an option we ask them to enter an access code. It looked like this:

enter image description here

The problem we had with this implementation was:

  • Users got confused and would sometimes drop off.
  • Users who didn't have an access code got confused why they couldn't access the app and left bad reviews.

So, now we're redesigning the flow, and our idea is to just have 1 textarea where they can enter their access code:

enter image description here

With this new design we're hoping that it'll be a lot more clear, and for the users that select that they don't have an access code we're thinking about letting them use the app without being able to earn money.

I'm wondering if all you experienced UX designers have come across an implementation like this before.

Any tips or advice would be great. Thank you.

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Second screen looks much clearer.

But my suggestion would be to zoom out a bit on the user journey. I can see sign in / up but this access code is confusing and as you mentioned, users drop off and you fail to capture their contact details.

Within this scenario, here's my 2c: Implement a sign up / in on 1st screen. From there when a user signs up, only at the bottom of the form should you mention the access code (Rename it to user code or something less gatekeeping depending on the context of your app) because you allow users to enjoy your app without this code you will be able to promote full access say during the onboarding screens.

Hope it makes sense!

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First of all, I agree with Guillaume that the second option is cleaner. Making the user tell you where they got their code before they even enter it is confusing, and honestly a step they should not have to deal with - your system should just recognize where they came from. Making them put that in is putting burden on the user rather than the system, not a good pattern to follow.

So it looks like the access code is granted to the user OUTSIDE of the sign-up/sign-in flow, perhaps by email or in person or in a letter or something? If so, there might not be a lot of alternative to having them enter it before signing up. But there might be some small ways to improve that for them. If it can be delivered electronically, you might give them a link to sign up that can be clicked to automatically enter the code for them, or perhaps to copy and paste it from an email. If it can be delivered by text, some mobile OSs allow you to offer the user to paste a code from a recent text into an appropriate field (iOS can do this, I'm not sure about Android). Whatever you can do to ease that part of the journey and remove as many barriers as possible to adoption.

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