UIEtips: Account Sign-in – 8 Design Mistakes to Avoid

Jared Spool

December 9th, 2008

There’s nothing that’s as ubiquitous on the web as account sign-in. Do it wrong and the user is frustrated and you may have permanently lost them. Do it right and you can turn a visitor into a long-term customer. Few things can be as important as having user accounts.

Our goal with account registration and sign-in features is to enhance the user’s experience, yet often we end up creating user experience problems. With all the experience designers have, it’s still difficult to create a good sign-in and registration process.

We try to setup a process that’s user friendly for our customers and users but unusable for the people that want to steal our identities and disrupt our environment. It’s difficult to create a design geared for one subset of users and not geared for everyone.

This week, we’re revisiting an article I first published a year ago, Account Sign-up: 8 Mistakes to Avoid. If you’re designing an account system, or already have one, this should serve as a good start to assess how much you may be frustrating your users.

Has your design suffered from these mistakes? What have you done to avoid them? Join the conversation below:

7 Responses to “UIEtips: Account Sign-in – 8 Design Mistakes to Avoid”

  1. Margaret Says:

    Another mistake I find very anoying is not to clarly indicate which fields are mandatory or even worse, make all the fields mandatory.

  2. Samantha LeVan Says:

    My pet peeve is unnecessarily long signup forms. If there’s not enough incentive to continue, customers will back out before completing the process. There’s little need for endless pages of signup fields. Focus on the priority items and let the rest be optional – later.

  3. Michael Ramlal Says:

    content thats erased out of a field after a validation warning thats anoying!

  4. Grant Novey Says:

    If you’ve ever forgot to fill out required field(s) in a form and then submitted it you should see some type of error telling you so. When I see forms using Javascript alert boxes telling the end-user what they forgot to fill out, it really annoys me. I’ve seen forms move to using Ajax to inject the error messages directly onto the page instead of using an annoying alert box. Some web forms that I’ve filled out use live validation giving the end-user immediate feedback before they click submit. This I like!

  5. Jon Kranz Says:

    Good form design is not only pleasant, it’s effective! But how do you balance good validation messages without sacrificing security against fraud or hacks (both of which are big problems we manage at my company)?
    Some validation messages may be good for users but can also help fraudsters or hackers. Captcha codes aren’t enough. So what’s a good way to go?

  6. Tim Dowd Says:

    Before validation, hints as to format are so helpful, such as dashes in a phone # or not. In fact, why doesn’t the app parse instead of making the user do it? Separate fields for phone # parts are nice but some auto-tab to the next field while others don’t and some forms auto-tab on some fields and not others…why? Some forms just validate to the first error, why not validate all fields and give feedback, rahter than user trial and error? After validation, hints as to what fields are bad and why are helpful, especially near the offending field.

  7. Bryan Owens Says:

    Lately I’ve been dealing with corporate career sites that require registrations for job submissions.

    There’s nothing worse than filling out a lengthy registration form, including resume, cover letter, etc. — only to have it tell me on submission that my email address has already been used, presumably from an earlier application months or years earlier.

    Easily solved by using inline validation of the email address as the first form field, along with the option of logging in using an existing account.

    Believe it or not, I’ve actually seen some job-specific submission forms without an existing-account login option, which requires hunting around the site to find it, following by searching for the position again after login…[sigh]

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