Register without registration form

December 12, 2009

Registrations are annoying. People hate them. No matter how clear benefits of registration are and no matter how much of them WILL register eventually, they still hate it. But, in the other hand, they want to finish their jobs online, and most of them are willing to provide some information in order to finish their jobs. So why don’t make their lives easier and enable them to register without registration form?

Take e-commerce for example. People browse products, add them to shopping cart, proceed to checkout and there is a registration form waiting for them. Even if it is lazy registration, it is still a registration. But they need to provide their names, addresses, card details, and other information anayway if they want to buy, so why don’t use that information and register them?

Let’s take a look at how it could look like at the Amazon.com. Currently they have a registration form shown in the image below.

Instead of having this registration form with 8 fields, email (and password) can be integrated in personal/shipping details form, which is a usual step in checkout process. This can be done in two ways. The first one is to add a checkbox to the end of the form that would register visitors if they check it. Email address would be used for login along with the password that would be sent to the email address provided. This password could be changed later on. So, no registration form.

The other example is to leave everything in users’ hands by using one of my favorite patterns, progressive disclosure. By checking “Register for free account” checkbox, password field would be revealed, enabling users to complete registration without unnecessary emails. No registration form again.

So what do you think, does this makes sense to you? How would you do this?

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47 Comments

  • Mary Lou (December 12, 2009)

    Janko, the web needs people like you! So many sites require the user to do double the work, instead they could do something like you show here. It’s common sense, right? At least in many other sites, we can use the OpenID already…

  • KreCi (December 12, 2009)

    Hmm… maybe I am silly but I don’t get it… :/ You write without registration form and you offer to use another form…

  • Theme DIgital (December 12, 2009)

    @KreCi – The idea is to simplify the process. Of course you can’t have (yet) a registration without the user filling up some data.

    Think of it more as: "instead of having a separate form for registrations, use one you already have in place – one form that people [i]need[/i] to fill in order to get their job done.

    A true no-forms registration would be something like a technology that scans your fingerprint, your eyes, or some card you would show to your webcam.

    But that would be scary – I wouldn’t like the web heading in that direction…

  • Sergei S. (December 12, 2009)

    why not make friends with OpenID or Google Checkout and not ask for any data at all?

  • Janko (December 12, 2009)

    Mary: thanks! This should make lives easier until openid becomes widely accepted.

    Kreci, Theme digital: that is exactly my point :)

    Sergei: I am afraid we’ll wait for those solutions to become widely used

  • Oskari Grönroos (December 12, 2009)

    I’d definitely vote for the second option, [b]IF[/b] it had a second password field. I really do not like this current trend in Web 2.0 of having just one password field in registrations. I realize that this is a measure to make the registration form seem less work, less intimidating. But as you said, users will nevertheless hate the registration form.

    Every so often I get caught when the passwords don’t match, so if I mistype it but can’t verify (as the field hides the characters), in some cases I can’t even change the password later on, because even while logged in, I need to type the current password to change it.

  • turisuna (December 12, 2009)

    People prefer a simple thing, fill double forms will be annoying, it’s not including the confirmation link that’s sent to our email. I would like to get simpler system.

  • Richard Reddy (December 12, 2009)

    This is a nice option but I think you should still offer a sign up or register option for users who might want to register without purchasing.

    Any online store that I build at work includes an in process registration as per your example but we also make sure that registration is not required. As long as you enter you personal and payment details you can buy online. Forcing people to create an account is such a terrible and unneccessary step.

  • James Costa (December 12, 2009)

    I think they would [i]need[/i] to show the e-mail address to provide an e-mail copy of the receipt. There are a lot of websites now that have registration but you they also register you (without you knowing) when you enter some information.

    Take StumbleUpon for example. When you submit something and are not logged in/don’t have an account, they take you to a quick form that asks for your e-mail and password. Really, user registration should be limited to this, and should people want to edit any other information, they can do so in their profile settings.

    So, in hindsight to your article, maybe just have that tickbox for the password?

  • Adam Meyer (December 12, 2009)

    Actually I ran into a truly formless registration the other day that was pretty cool.

    My brother had signed up for this family tree, and when he sent the email, I was like "h man, not one of these". I went to the site dreading creating another login, and infact would not have done it had it asked me. But I went to the site and all it said, was "Josh said you are his brother. Is this true?" I hit yes and it asked for other relatives if I wanted to add them.

    Then I got an email with my username and temp password.

    The site is so-so. But the fact that I didn’t have to signup wowed me.

    Geni.com

  • STE (December 13, 2009)

    very boring to fill the data too much.
    it would be better registration made easier. at least only a maximum of 5 columns that must be filled

  • iFadey (December 13, 2009)

    Very nice Janko. I like your posts. Keep it up!

  • Chris Hill (December 14, 2009)

    For a recent project I used the equivalent of your 3rd example, just without a checkbox. It really simplifies the registration process from the users perspective.

    Its important to keep the number of ordering process ‘hoops’ the user has to jump through to a minimum to prevent them bailing out of the purchase before completing. I would expect other sites which need some sort of sign up or registration would still require lengthy forms, but for a basic e-commerce site your examples work well.

  • Moises (December 14, 2009)

    You may also implement a open distributed registration artifact, like OpenID, and the like. This way users only have to handle a single profile form at the credentials repository. Greetings!

  • Aashwin (December 14, 2009)

    Very good information but it still requires a Indirect input

  • Frenzii (December 15, 2009)

    I agree that registration forms are annoying. I don’t like to fill those gasps, not because I’m telling someone my private data, but because this is something that takes time. And on internet everything that takes time is bad. That is one of the fundamental rules of web using.

  • Janko (December 15, 2009)

    Thanks for the comments! Nice to see that many agree with the idea of simplifying registration process. After all, that would make our lives easier.

  • Phil (December 17, 2009)

    I very much approve!

  • Website laten maken (December 17, 2009)

    I agree Janko! When it comes to filling out form or registration, the less the better!

  • MaNus (December 17, 2009)

    KreCi is right, users still using a registration form. What about OpenID? You just have to use a valid e-mail address and that’s it!
    -> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenID

  • Janko (December 17, 2009)

    Phil, Website laten maken: Thanks!

    MaNus: The form presented in this article in not a registration form. It is a form for entering shipping details. For users, there is no registration pain because system will handle everything under the hood.

    As I mentioned earlier, for whatever reason OpenID isn’t widely accepted yet. So, while waiting to see the destiny of services such as OpenID, we can do as little as this idea to ease things.

  • denmaz (December 18, 2009)

    I agree with above. I think OpenID is not "ready" to be used today, same reason, it isn’t widely accepted yet. If there is simple way, why we had to take the difficult one.

  • Anomalous Thought (December 19, 2009)

    Just a question here. What if you’re building a communication service like Skype or Facebook, does anyone have a solution on say how you’d have a Facebook profile and chat with friends while cleverly not having them register? Or is this methodology really only practical for ecommerce sites and super small time gigs that have absolutely no proper reasoning for registration?

    I’d really like to hear some ideas in those arenas, that’d truly be a sign up process to revolution things.

  • Jan (December 19, 2009)

    Best timing I’ve ever seen – just right now I have to make a concept for a possible registration. The project I’m working on needs it, ’cause you will get your own social profile. So this is my temporary solution (still work in progress):
    Reducing the registration itself to three inputs: Name, surname, email. Via mail the user will get a random password. First login will guide him through some final steps: He has to setup his personal profile (picture, age, some other infos about himself) and can change his password.
    This way there is no need for password-inputs in the registration form (so there is no need for a retype input) and email verification is done by sending the random password to him (if he can login, he got the activation email).

  • sridevi (December 22, 2009)

    Hi, i agree partially to the information provided by you because if we want to login into any of the websites we need to provide some information as it creates cookies in our client system so that there is no need to introduce our self every time.But some websites asks pages and pages information (like youmint) for registration which is time waste to us.

  • Jason Tipp (December 23, 2009)

    Sometimes those registration forms could be a real problem – taking time and getting on one’s nerves. Without all of these unnecessary elements this could become quick and pleasant process.

  • mouras (December 24, 2009)

    A simple registration form should only require an e-mail. A confirmation e-mail with a link will send you to a page with all the details of the purchase (if any) asking you to provide further details and create a password for you.

    Login should be simple also requiring initially only the e-mail and if found in the db then you should be presented with a modal to insert your password.

  • Sawant Shah (December 28, 2009)

    I love your idea. I myself am a big proponent of simplified forms and simplified signup processes. Although in Amazon’s case, this technique may not reap the best results. Since Amazon has been there since years, and most of the people who shop from there already have an account at Amazon (more than 80% must be returning customers), so they’d want to ‘sign-in’ first and have their shipping details filled-in.

    This technique, however, would be great for new e-commerce websites.

  • Janko (December 29, 2009)

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts!

    Anomalous Thought: Well, my focus in this article was on ecommerce sites, but I guess that something similar can be done on social networking too. Take http://www.geni.com for example. Basically, there is n oregistration form – by providing your details you start your family tree. We can lern from this example.

    Jan: I’m glad that helped!

  • Jonathan Abbett (January 4, 2010)

    You can do so much with Amazon that doesn’t involve checking out: create a wish list, add a book review, etc. You’d have to perform this kind of "integrated registration" with every function on the site (not just checkout). It would be a challenge to implement, but pretty good from the user’s perspective.

    As for OpenId — it will never take off in its current form. The concept is just too abstract for the non-technical user.

  • Tiziano Luccarelli (January 5, 2010)

    As Adam Meyer in his comment above, I found Geni.com registration procedure the best and lighter ever seen.

    I do not want to register if not absolutely needed. A lot of companies are still using the registration forms to gain personal data not useful to the proper use of the services proposed (market research, users data, etc…). Could be useful to "study" users’ behaviour after the first contact instead collecting data before it?

    This comment is something like a registration? Now Janko knows my name, my email address, my website address, my Country of origin and probably my IP address today. :)

    Ops… too long comment. I hate this :)

  • denbagus (January 6, 2010)

    yes i hate when must register , and this amazing tutorial for me . thank you

  • Suneedh (January 6, 2010)

    Any online store that I build at work includes an in process registration as per your example but we also make sure that registration is not required. As long as you enter you personal and payment details you can buy online.

  • Warren Davies (January 10, 2010)

    Yes really great idea. If I come across a site that allows me to purchase something without creating an account, I usually appreciate that and take that option, BUT, if there was a tick box saying "automatically register with these details", I’m sure I’d tick it. Why not? I think as a species we’ve developed an aversion to the words "Register" and "Create Account", anything that can avoid them is a plus!

  • Janko (January 10, 2010)

    Jonathan: It would definitively require changes in the registration process, especially because Amazon asks for password whatever you want to do, even if you are logged in. I totally agree with you on OpenID.

    Tiziano: Thanks for the comment! It wasn’t too long at all. Well, by looking that way on comment forms, we can say they are sort of registration :)

    Warren: [quote]as a species we’ve developed an aversion to the words "Register" and "Create Account"[/quote] – LOL, so true! Thanks for the comment!

  • SJL Web Design (January 11, 2010)

    Great idea Janko, I personally hate registration forms, so anything to replace them in my opinion is a great Idea. I prefer checkouts with guest options like the Magento checkout process.

  • Sun Sunich (January 19, 2010)

    Absolutely. A button or a check-box saying ‘Save this data for my future purchase’ (or the one you suggested), checking which would result in what you suggest.
    But one should still provide an alternative way to register for those in the know or those who do want to stick with the site.

    P.S. Amazon is one terrible site interface and ux-wise imho.

  • felipe saavedra (February 11, 2010)

    muchas gracias

  • Adam (February 14, 2010)

    Amazon have it spot on with their form, it is as simple and user friendly as it could be. My pet hate is sites that ask for my phone number, I don’t think I have ever registered on a site that requires it.

  • Sun Sunich (February 17, 2010)

    @Adam so haven’t I.
    Are there any sites that would demand that except for online shops?

    You didn’t count those, did you?

  • Van Gale (February 19, 2010)

    Nicest registration I’ve seen was for FluidDB (http://fluidinfo.com/fluiddb) in their pre-beta stage.

    All you had to do was follow it on twitter @fluiddb and it pulled your name and email from your twitter account.

    They have a normal registration type form now. Don’t know if that was because of problems or they wanted to reach beyond twitter users :)

  • MLM Training (February 27, 2010)

    I really love this idea very unique. Mostly everybody does hate filling stuff including me, applying that would make everything easier. But I think I know why they might not do it, It’s because some people do NOT want to register and have a profile, they just want to buy that item and that’s it.

    Regards,
    Mohamed Adam Jr.

  • Tess Curvin (March 5, 2010)

    Nice post, good job. I have recently started my own blog so its handy to learn from what you have going here. Many Thanks. Tess Curvin

  • Hardwood Flooring (March 9, 2010)

    Janko, your idea is mind blowing. Wherever I see registration form, I will get you in my mind from now on. LOL.
    @ Richard: I agree with you. As far as possible we avoid registrations in ecommerce sites. But some owners usually feel that anonymous users shouldn’t see the prices of their products and hence they go for a registration form wherein you need to fill your details and if the admin of the site authorizes you, you can then view price and shop their products online! In such cases, you need to make registrations and no one can deny it. Right?
    @Warren: Your idea is truly great! Even I wouldn’t mind clicking on that tick box if such options are seen in online stores rather than filling up those boring forms.

  • eRage webdesign (March 16, 2010)

    Nice post. So basically, what you’re saying is: use the information in the personal/shipping details form to gather data for a potential new account?

    Good thinking. This way, you can combine 2 forms into 1.

    I like the suggestions about openID as well. It’s still way too early to implement things like openID in registration forms, but I like the idea. You should only have 1 login account for all your websites.

  • Las Vegas Web Design (March 25, 2010)

    I really like this idea to combine the registration with purchase. But there need to be additional options for 1) users who don’t want to register (as mentioned by others in the comments), and, 2) users who may want to register under a different profile than the one they’re using to purchase.

    Since point 1 has already been discussed, I’ll focus on point 2.

    Although the percentage of users who would want a different purchase profile than their registration profile is probably quite low, it is a possibility. For example let’s say you own a small business and want to make a purchase on behalf of the company, but would prefer a personal registration with the website. I guess this approach would also depend on the type of community the website is trying to create, the ability to link profiles to purchases (or vice versa) and how the user profile will be used in future marketing.

    Thanks Janko!

  • Net Age | Web Design (May 11, 2010)

    At the end of the day the basic nature of mankind leans towards laziness…the expenditure of the least amount of energy to get the desired result.

    Complicated registration forms are a huge deterrent to impulse buying, and any tricks whatsoever to make the registration process as smooth and pain-free as possible is ultimately going to benefit your conversion rates.

    The attention span of our ADD generation is notoriously short, and you need to maximise the return from the precious few seconds you get from visiting traffic.