Sign-up pages - best practices

  • ChrisMichaels
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Hi, I’m developing a sign-up process and I’d like some tips on registration form design. So far I’ve found some useful links:

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2008/07/04/web-form-design-patterns-sign-up-forms/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViraJwcT9MQ
http://www.digital-web.com/articles/redesigning_ebay_registration/

but I’m still unsure about some current best practices, e.g.:

(1) is right justifying labels always preferable to left justifying labels?
(2) should I not use pop-up explanations and always use static text instead?
(3) should optional fields be separated into a block on their own or should I just indicate mandatory fields in some way?
(4) do email fields need to be confirmed or just confirm password fields?
(5) should I use a progress bar from the start or only after the first page after I’ve captured an email address for follow up?

Thanks
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Post 3+ Months Ago

  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

I like to confirm the email address as well as the password. This way, I ensure that the user doesn't make a mistake and never receive the confirmation mail.

For most things, an explanation is not needed. Like the field for name, email, password, username, address, telephone... doesn't need explanation. Unless for email address, if you are validating VIA AJAX (On the fly) then you could have a pop-up or static text saying they made an error in the field.

The only time you may need an explanation is for the fields that pertain directly to the site or your script you are using to validate the form. Like, lets say you have a field where you want the user to put in his/her first icon on the desktop. You may want to explain why your site needs that (Just an example).

Anything that is common sense (like your name... you wouldn't say, put your current valid name here unless you want to have a certain format... like Last Name, Middle Initial, First Name).

If I need some field with a little description, I would have it something like:

Name: (Last, First Name)
[The input field here]

I usually, keep mandatory and optional fields clustered together and mark the mandatory fields with an asterisk (*). And then at the bottom of the form I put (* = Mandatory Field).

I don't use the progress bar at all at my form. I don't see any reason for it, unless you are having more than one page for the form, and then I think something like Page 2 of 3 is adequate.
  • ChrisMichaels
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks Bogey,

I wasn’t going to send a confirmation email. After registration a user can log in. This means trusting the user not to give someone else’s email address – is this being too naïve?

I’m trying to cut down on the number of fields I use so the email address would act as a userid. I was also thinking of not having a password confirmation field as although most sites do many large sites such as Facebook, Friendster, LinkedIn, Stumbleupon, Pownce and Twitter don’t require password confirmation. Although I’m not sure if this is the right approach (I’ll have a forgotten password facility)?

When displaying errors I was going to use static text to list the errors at the top of the form and then highlight the error fields and use static explanations next to them. I’d intended to use multiple, short form pages but other people have suggested that a single large form page with ajax/javascript evaluation on each field is now becoming more popular?

Thanks again.
  • joebert
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Post 3+ Months Ago

No point in collecting an email address if you're not going to make sure it's valid. If you plan on sending out any sort of news letter or other follow-up communications you should really consider making them click a link in a confirmation email so you have a rock solid "opt-in" argument should you ever need it.

If you're sending out a confirmation email that includes the password like some of the larger sites do, then you should be able to get away without doing a password confirmation.

Per-field error hints done with JS have always been popular for things like phone number syntax errors and whatnot. The only thing you could really use AJAX for most of the time is quickly checking the availability of a username, or in your case an email address.
  • Bogey
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Post 3+ Months Ago

ChrisMichaels wrote:
I’ll have a forgotten password facility
Make sure that the password you put into the Database is md5()'d and that the facility you make verifies that the user trying to 'remember' the password is the real user (Such as the secret question/answer), and then you send a new pass to the email provided in that users registration and have a change your password option so they would be able to change their password after logging in.
  • ChrisMichaels
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Thanks guys for the email confirmation/ajax/forgotten password ideas.

I was thinking to encourage elicitation of the email address (username) that at the point when I ask for it I ought to provide obvious reassurances about the privacy/anti spamming policy and provide “opt-in for further marketing” check boxes.

I guess these days “opt-out” (as opposed to “opt-in”) check boxes and hiding the privacy policy away in small homepage links/the fine print in the confirmation email is frowned upon? Are there any laws relating to this?
  • spork
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Post 3+ Months Ago

ChrisMichaels wrote:
I guess these days “opt-out” (as opposed to “opt-in”) check boxes and hiding the privacy policy away in small homepage links/the fine print in the confirmation email is frowned upon? Are there any laws relating to this?

Tricks like that certainly won't make your audience very happy.
  • ChrisMichaels
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Post 3+ Months Ago

Quote:
Tricks like that certainly won't make your audience very happy.


Yeah, I agree - does anyone use Google Website Optimizer or an analytics tool to try to find the weak points in your registration/checkout process? Can anyone recommend any? And do you have any tips on how best to apply them?

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