I have been working in social media for over five years now and in that time I have easily signed up for more than 500 social media sites. Like a kid eager to try a new toy I will try just about anything out. (Of course I end up being more fascinated with the box than the toy just like when I was a kid.) Over this period of time one thing that I have noticed about niche social networking sites is that a lot of them have a high barrier of entry.
Personally I would think that niche sites should have the lowest barrier of entry because they want new people to try out their website. Instead the strategies they use drive potential new users away by making it difficult to get through the signup process. In reviewing over 250 sites for this blog (so far) there were instances where I would have walked away from the signup process if I didn’t have to review the site.
Here are a few tips I have for niche social network creators that can be applied to just about anyone creating a website or a web application.
1) Three to four pages for a sign up form is too much
Having to click on next and see another page of information requested becomes daunting and annoying. Limit the signup page to one single page or at the very worst two. Three or four page sign up forms are overkill.
2) Don’t make me fill out my entire profile during the signup process
At this point in my relationship with your site I am not even convinced that I like your product enough to stick around. Asking me to fill out all my profile information is ruining my user experience right off the bat. While I know the thought behind this is that if I invest my time by filling out my profile I am going to feel attached to the site and will have a return rate I have to say that this is actually makes me want to bail on the process and not use the site.
3) I appreciate you want my demographic information but I thought I was joining a website not filling out a questionnaire
Demographic information is one of the most important pieces in the prosperity of a social networking site. Advertising, promotions, and features can be determined from the information a user enters. The more detailed the information you have the more valuable it is for your marketing efforts. However having me fill out all that on the onset is overkill. Sneak it into the profile feature that I fill out at my leisure. Let me enjoy your site and I will gladly fill out more information.
4) Poorly designed CAPTCHAs
There is nothing that drives me nuts more than poorly designed CAPTCHAs that are impossible to read. I have really good vision and if I fail three times at putting in my information because I am guessing and what it says there is a problem with your setup. Well that or I am completely going blind and I just don’t realize it yet.
5) Please let me create my own password
I know are going to promise to send me a password that I can change at a later date. Nine times out of ten I never actually get the message or it ends up in my spam folder. Then I forget to change it when I log in if you don’t ask me to change it right away and I have to consistently reset my password. Please let me use the same password I use for everything “fluffymuffin” and let me move on with my day.
In the end the whole lesson for site designers isn’t getting the most information out of the end user for the marketing department or creating so many barriers for security that the site is impenetrable. The lesson is that the end user needs to be able to get in and test out your site, they need to experience your feature set and what it can do not continually jump through hoops. Keep that first customer interaction in the back of your mind when designing your sign site.
These are probably my largest pet peeves when it comes to signing up for social media sites, what about you?