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I am working on a series of utility mobile apps whittle residential real estate investors manage their businesses. The apps I am developing are highly specialized and impactful. I plan on making them fremium in that the users can try the apps for free but must pay to unlock the key functionality.

I would like to hear people's opinions on the usability of requiring a user to register for an account for a mobile app, either through email/password or Facebook login, in order to use it.

I will be using the user account to provide cross device sync to the users. I am wondering if that by requiring a login, some users will decide not to try out the app due to the extra effort and/or privacy concerns associated with registration.

Requiring a logged in account to edit information will greatly simplify the development process.

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To require user account before use of a new and possibly unknown application may be a bad choice. Instead of two levels of users (free and premium) you may need a third level. This should be the one where users can try the application without signing up so they know if it’s worth the effort to sign up. Experienced user already have numerous of dead accounts everywhere, and you gain nothing from having a lot of unwanted users in your system. Eventually you’ll end up with administrating users who haven’t done anything useful for several years. I suggest a trial account where the user can test the features and user experience of the app before creating a free account where users sign up.

Second, always try to implement third party identity providers instead of managing user login by yourself. Typing on mobiles are painful, and typing passwords containing symbols, numbers and even uppercase takes time and effort from the user. Having a “Connect via…” (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo…) is always a better choice for you and your users. Only implement managed username/password if you have too.

  • I would include both managed accounts and third party (Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo…). As a user I don't always want a third party login especially on business apps. Some apps I don't mind e.g. instagram but I like to have the choice to use one or not. – Dave Haigh Jul 20 '15 at 10:57
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From experience, unless an account is integral to the experience (i.e Twitter, Uber, etc), I'd avoid making it a requirement to use the app.

Otherwise you'll be breaking the rule of affordance:

http://www.usabilityfirst.com/glossary/affordance/

By requiring an account, users will assume it benefits them in somewhat, but it seems here it's not necessary for the core features, and mostly motivated by alleviating development.

I understand your point of view, but users might get the wrong impression.

I'd suggest providing at least the basic functionality without signing in, with incentives to sign in (extended functionality, purchasing add-ons, etc).

This gives users the ability to test the app, and see what they're getting into. Once they like it I'm sure they'll gladly connect with it.

Edit:

That said, like mentioned here by others, usually apps are automatically connect via the app-store account, but I'm not sure how this works exactly.

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