Friday, December 26, 2008

11 Expert Tips For Enhancing The User Login Process

Tips for designing login procedures ...

"You and your team have worked hard on your web application—it’s your pride and joy. Plus the users that you tested it with are all happy. They just love all the community-building features that you’ve added. Great!
Yet six months after launch, the site just isn’t gaining any traction with the community. People just seem to be drifting away. Why? Everything seemed perfect, so what could be wrong?

This situation is all too common, and the root cause often lies in the basics. Even a very small component of the site can have a dramatic effect on the user experience!

For example, if the login process itself is delivering a poor experience, then people will be reluctant to use it, and all of those killer features you added will be in vein. In the worst case, it could be discouraging people from logging back into the site at all, which means no community, no repeat sales … all of this adds up to a failed site.

... It’s Simple … Yet It’s Not

Login interaction design is simple on the surface. There are, however, quite a number of elements that contribute to the final design considerations for a user login page. When they’re all combined, things can quickly get complicated. Here’s a sample of the factors to consider:

* Security
* Previous user experience
* Site legacy procedures
* Internal business processes
* Page interface design
* Audience platform considerations

You can probably think of a few more factors to add to that list. Regardless, there are still some simple things that we can focus on to ensure that the experience is a good one. Here’s my list of tips for making sure your users keep coming back and logging in.
1. Use email addresses for usernames

Studies have shown that people have enough trouble remembering their passwords, without them having to recall a username as well. Using a string that people are more likely to remember, like an email address, reduces the chance of the user forgetting their login details even further.

The convention for a web site’s username to take the form of an email address nominated by the user is becoming more and more established. Sure, there can be issues with the approach of using an email address as a username, such as:

* Some service providers recycling email addresses
* Users changing their name, and their email address as a result
* Email addresses taking different formats

However, none of these issues are insurmountable—just be sure to allow (and test) for the different scenarios listed above.

The common alternative of forcing users to log in using a membership number (or some other username that is allocated to them) does not help at all. If you must use something other than an email address for your web site’s usernames, at least let your users personalise their account somewhat by creating their own username to use on your site."    (Continued via SitePoint, Gary Barber)    [Usability Resources]

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