Your Registration Forms Suck


You are making me do what?
You are making me do what?
Creative Commons Attribution by Flickr User JD Hancock http://www.flickr.com/photos/jdhancock/5061697780/sizes/l/in/photostream/

A recent article on UXMovement outlined 8 reasons why people don’t fill out those sign up forms on a website, Facebook page or inside your app.  The reasons were what you might expect: fear of getting spammed, fear of insecure data storage or transfer, asking for information that users feel they shouldn’t need to give up.

But a huge reason for avoiding sign up forms, registration walls and subscriptions was missed.

The content that is behind that form is probably available elsewhere without registration requirements.  Furthermore, someone in my social network probably knows where it is, or already has it and is willing to share.  This means that websites aren’t trading as much on *uniqueness* of content but rather on *convenience*.  If your registration form or sign up process is a big barrier to getting at your content, the convenience goes down and users will look elsewhere.  The failures of big news papers to put content behind paywalls and registration walls illustrates this point nicely.  Analyst reports are in a similar situation.  The purchaser persona for these has shifted away from an interested buyer doing market research and almost exclusively to the marketing departments of the companies covered in the reports.  The companies then post the analyst reports for all to see.  You and I get them for free, without registering.

So think about that registration form, contest entry or sign-up sheet you have.  Keep it simple and follow these 2 guidelines:

1) simple registration forms are OK – name, email, company name and maybe phone number (maybe!)  People are usually willing to trade basic information for access to your content.  But make sure it’s actually a trade.  Don’t gouge your market for their data.

2) keep it easy and convenient – forms should take less than 30 seconds to fill in and I should be able to do it as easily on my phone or tablet as I can on my laptop.  Remember that access to your content is a convenience.  I will go find it (or something like it from your competitor) elsewhere if you make my life difficult.

There are hundreds of opportunities to sign up for a chance to win an iPad. There are millions of tech blogs.  We have whitepapers, reports, infographics and webinars coming out our ears.  That information is easy to replicate, share and re-post.  It is good that information is shared and content goes viral through our interest networks.  So ensure that your content points back to you and lets people know how to get in touch when your content touches them.

That is engagement that no sign up form will ever mimic.

[my name is Billy Cripe – my site is BloomThink.com – I run a social media strategy agency – email: billy.cripe[at]bloomthink.com | facebook: facebook.com/bloomthink ]

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