The web’s been around for decades, and authentication has been part of it for quite some time, too.
Yet even so, there are still ways to innovate around those familiar concepts like signing up and logging in, and simplify those flows. Here are two examples.
Pinterest: Sign Up With Your Email Only
Pinterest cleverly disguises their sign-up flow as “requesting an invite”, making you think you’re applying for membership in an exclusive VIP online club.
The thing is, every request is eventually granted. So although sign-up is delayed, it’s pretty much guaranteed.
But what this does is effectively let people sign-up with only their email, without having to give their name or even pick a password.
You could still have an email-only sign-up without this whole “request invite” thing: once people have entered their email, log them in automatically and tell them their password is waiting for them in their inbox.
Bagcheck: Log In Reinvented
Simplifying sign-up is fine, but Bagcheck takes this one step further and even simplifies log-in.
Bagcheck’s unique log-in form only has a single field, and doesn’t even have a submit button!
I personally try never to use the term “sign-in”, since it’s so close to “sign-up”. There’s less risk of confusing users (or readers) if you say “log in” instead.
Once you start typing a name, you get a couple options via auto-complete, and picking your name makes log-in options appear.
Those options correspond to however you’ve authenticated with the site in the past. In my case choosing “Twitter” redirects me to Twitter for the standard auth dialog, and picking “Bagcheck” displays a standard password field.
Ironically, although Bagcheck’s log in flow is great, it’s virtually impossible to find the “sign out” button (it’s only displayed on your user profile page).
One Size Fits All?
Besides complexity, one of the problem with sign-up and log-in processes is simply that there’s so many variants.
While that encourages creativity and coming up with great new solutions like the previous two examples, it also confuses users and teaches them to trust unfamiliar processes. This in turn might lead to security problems, like being too willing to give apps access to your data for authentication purposes.
So it might be time to start thinking about a standardized solution… or maybe scrap all this altogether and focus on browser-based authentication?
- Innovative Techniques To Simplify Sign-Ups and Log-Ins
- Design Solutions for New Log In Problems (about the Bagcheck flow)
Know of other innovative sign-up or log-in flows? Let me know here or on Hacker News!