I'm in the process of wireframing an iPhone App for a big website with some functions that can only be used by signed in users (e.g. favorites, saved searched).

Many apps use the modal dialog to sign in and I think that works pretty fine (mainly because you don't leave the page you're on). But how do you handle password recovery? And how do you switch to the registration screen if you don't have an account yet?

Background: Most users will not need to register because the already have an account but I guess that many won't remember the password. To receive a new password you only need to enter your email address.

Thoughts? Nice examples? Best practice? Any input much appreciated!

  • Is the e-mail used as the user name? May 18, 2011 at 10:06
  • @Jørn: Unfortunately not - we'll try to change that but it won't happen in this release.
    – Phil
    May 18, 2011 at 10:20
  • I think you should rephrase you question so it is clearer what you really ask for. I've given you some suggestions now that certainly reflects various login alternatives, but your response is only "that wouldn't fit my needs in my app". Would you like us to list various login/recovery solutions or do you want us to infer an appropriate solution to your app? If the latter is the case, then some more information on registered vs unregistered users, desired workflow, registration policy, requests frequency and availability of the limited features. Just m2c... May 18, 2011 at 14:34
  • @Jørn: As I said, I'd like to use the iPhone modal dialog but I'm not sure if there is a way to implement the required features (pw recovery, switch to registration form) or if I should use a dialog at all. I'm looking for best practice examples or ideas for an elegant implementation (or at least some pros and cons). I don't mean to be rude but what you suggest is just a standard web login form. And you don't need to worry about workflows or registered vs. unregistered users, policies etc. - I'm only looking for a login solution.
    – Phil
    May 18, 2011 at 15:04

1 Answer 1


IMHO, you don't have a lot of choices. All this functionality should be accessible from the same dialog/screen. I.e. that you shouldn't have a plain login dialog without any recovery or register function. The fact that the user name is not the users e-mail address complicates the whole thing. Now you should include "Forgot user name" as well :)

OK. In addition to the login information, which is the primary task for the dialog, you need to add three secondary features to the dialog/screen:
1) Forgot password?
2) Forgot user name?
3) Register as new user.

The first two might be combined to "Forgot user name or password?"


Depending on the preferred work flow, I suggest that you add a login screen at startup. Something similar to the ACM TechNews app:

enter image description here

And implement the following improwements.

  • Remove the "Cancel" button.
  • Add a "Forgot username/password" button.
  • Add a "View as guest" or "No thanks, I'll register later" button.

The password recovery and registration form could be handled by an existing web page that is shown in a popup webkit window controlled by your app.

  • 1
    This answer could be improved by being more iPhone app-specific and addressing the specific issues Phil had in his question, such as which iOS controls to use or what flow to take the user through.
    – Rahul
    May 18, 2011 at 10:21
  • That's the solution I would use on a website but in an app? I can't really place links next to or beneath the login fields on a iPhone modal dialog. Or are you suggesting I shouldn't use a dialog? Or a non-standard dialog?
    – Phil
    May 18, 2011 at 10:24
  • @Rahul, @Phil: Sorry, I was a bit to vague I guess. I'll update my answer. May 18, 2011 at 11:02
  • ørn: I certainly don't want to force the user to login or even bother him with a login form. As mentioned, it's only necessary to sign in for a few features. The "forgot user name" case isn't really a problem, it's going to be "forgot login?" and you'll receiver your user name and a new password.
    – Phil
    May 18, 2011 at 13:53
  • @Phil. OK. As I said, the "login at startup"-suggestion assumes that the vendor wants to encourage registration... May 18, 2011 at 14:20

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