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I have a medical website about to launch. It is also a niche social network. There is a comprehensive question and answer section and questions are highlighted to users based on their medical interests via a custom question feed. Therefore, users interests and question topics are closely linked.

Many new users will come to the site via an invitation to address a particular medical question that has been referred to them via email. For this it makes sense that they get shuttled immediately from a single page sign up to the question they were invited to answer. But others may hear about the site and sign up.

My question is this - the user info is important as it helps to provide the user with a better experience (via a custom question feed) BUT I want users to just sign up, and not annoy them with several pages of sign up info before perusing the site. Do you think a 'gradual sign up process' is the best approach. ie on the site highlight that if they provide more info, 'we can give you a better experience'?

  • Superb article Roger.....food for thought. In some ways, avoiding a sign up form at 'first contact' would be ideal....the only problem with that is not being able to serve up user-specific value content when you essentially have no info on the prospective user.... – GhostRider Sep 18 '14 at 15:04
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  1. I believe a gradual sign up process is better. In the sidebar somewhere, you can show a cool graph denoting the percentage of profile completeness with a message that higher percentage leads to better content(or whatever you have).

    LinkedIn does a decent job in pushing the users to complete their profile. Also you can take a cue from various dating sites which lure the users to complete their profile.

  2. Additionally you might not need to take the user on a separate page to make them answer those questions. You can just show questions one at a time in a sidebar or anywhere which is less intrusive & capture the answer using ajax & then again show them the next question.

    Facebook does this to make you accept those pending friend requests & Quora does it to make you follow new topics.

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