We are building a web system where each organization/institution has an account to manage credits (pricing). Each institution can then have individual users (with separate logins) that use the same pool of credits. We are struggling with user registration and how to associate them with an institution.

Scenario 1: Self-registration

User registers themselves using a form, and enters their institution name. We don't want to show the list of registered institutions for privacy/security reasons. So, we run the risk of users entering a different spelling or acronym for their institution and not being associated correctly. Eg. If I wanted to join as part of the company 'Children's Hospital of Philadelphia', but I enter 'CHOP', I won't join the correct institution.

Scenario 2: Admin registers new users

If you are new user interested in joining, we'll ask you to get in touch with the admin for your institution so they can create a new user account and automatically link you to their institution. Here, we run the risk of users not knowing who their admin is for large institutions. This being the first release, we don't want to deter new users from joining because of hurdles like this.

Is there a standard (or user friendly) way this is handled in most systems?

  • 1
    While you don't want to show the full list of institutions, would you consider showing matches once the user has entered a name? So if I enter CHOP could you ask me if I meant Children's Hospital of Philadelphia'?
    – Matt Obee
    Commented Oct 29, 2014 at 15:39

1 Answer 1


We have a similar system in place in our org for customers. We follow scenario 2 for the following reasons:

  1. New users need training
  2. New users require administrative assistance to determine rights (not everyone should get the keys to the castle, and we don't determine that, customers do)
  3. New users don't know anything and can't necessarily be trusted to register properly for a service they've never used, especially if there are potentially faults in the system, if they're new to the organization entirely (what if they register with the wrong email?), and a plethora of other reasons why a new user will make a mistake
  4. There's no need for new users to register themselves (in our system)

Obviously I don't know what the purpose of your system is and why someone would sign up, so I would suggest you answer whether people have a need to sign themselves up versus asking an administrator with their organization to do it for them, should such a thing be necessary in the first place.

The standard right now is to allow anyone to register and to block new registrants from entering the system until an administrator for the account accepts the new user. That's a bit of work to set up; if you have trade secrets and don't want human error to get in the way, scenario 2 adds an additional buffer while the standard and scenario 1 are a bit easier for individuals but slightly more manual labor for organizations. Then again, it's slight; we haven't had a problem with it once.

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