Login Walls

First let me ask you for some information, can you please tell me your name, your email address, and would you please be so kind to come up with a password of eight to 10 characters, including a capital letter, two digits and two special characters? Hmm. I’m sure you did not enjoy that. It’s an example of a pattern that is popular, yet much dreaded by users. The login wall, instead of providing the content the user is interested in a site or an app, asks the user to first create an account or login, especially on mobile. It’s common to show a login wall when an app is launched for the first time. Login walls are bad because they require significant user effort. People must remember their credentials if they have an account or take the time to create a new account. Therefore, companies should use them only if users will benefit significantly from signing in. Applications that are highly personal, such as email or banking apps are justified in raising login walls. Login walls are, however, a nuisance on sites that people visit only rarely and that don’t contain highly sensitive information. Recipe apps, travel sites, e-commerce sites, news sites and many, many other types of apps and Web sites have no reason to ask people to create an account before taking them to content. And yes, on many sites there is a way to bypass a login wall, a little X in the corner or an inconspicuous skip button. But many users don’t notice that escape hatch. When I discussed login wolves in Eleni’s mobile usability classes, I frequently get the comment, but it’s only for the first time. The next time we keep them logged in, guess what? There may be no next time. Users are annoyed to have to enter information before they get a taste of what’s in store for them. When they launch an app or go to a site for the first time, they usually have no idea of what the value of using it is. But from thousands of hours of Internet usage, they do know that it takes hard work to fill in a form, particularly on mobile.

Well, creating and typing passwords is a pain.

Is the pain worth the gain?

People have to be highly motivated in order to choose to create an account instead of the tempting alternative of deleting the app or moving on to a different site, which is pretty much too touches away.

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