October 7, 2020
In the vast majority of apps, sign in & sign up screens are the first screens a user will experience, and this first impression will affect how users’ perceive the aesthetics, usability, and credibility of an app.
“Unfortunately, people do judge the book by its cover.” - Norman Nielsen Group
They are also largely forgotten about for most designers and developers, which generally means that the user experience for a large portion of people is plain awful when a user lands on these screens. So to help you put your best foot forward, I want to share a few simple tips for improving the design of signup & sign-in screens for apps.
Which screen should you show first? Deciding whether to display a sign-in screen or sign up screen first is a debate that a lot of teams spend countless hours discussing the pros and cons of both, and a lot of “I think we should do it this way”. But this is a debate that doesn’t need to happen, instead of asking which should you show first, answer the following question using data;
Are the majority of your users new or returning users?
Depending on the growth cycle of your app, you’re going to need to decide which one gets more prominence. If you notice that the majority of your users are new users, then show a signup screen otherwise show a sign-in screen. It is that simple. And you can easily swap it overtime to do the reverse.
Whichever way you go, you’ll want to make it easy for users to swap between the two screens. See the “heavy lifting” tip for a way to make this transition even more seamless.
Another one for the debaters. Should you show a social sign in or email? And which one should I show first? This again is a question to be answered with data, but whichever you choose, make sure that it is easy to select.
This is the most straightforward tip but one that will show that you mean business when it comes to providing wonderful user experience. If a user who has previously created an account unknowingly tries to signup don’t just tell them “You need to sign in”, sign them in - if their details are correct. Do as much of the heavy lifting for them as possible.
Passwords can be frustrating most of the time. One it is hard to remember them all, and two, it is tough to type a decent password on a phone. So try to make it as easy possible by doing the following:
When it comes to signing up, the less information you ask users to input the better. For each input that you’re displaying ask yourself “do I really need all this information to sign a user up”, and if the answer is no then ditch it. Try to combine fields where you can so that it reduces the load on users and make sure button actions make sense.
When it comes to Terms & Conditions, don’t just stick a checkbox on screen and ask users to tick it to sign up. Why not only display text saying “By signing up you agree to our Terms & Conditions”? It does the same thing. But in some cases, you will need your users to explicitly agree to the terms and conditions. For those instances, you should display the Terms & Conditions first and then ask the user to agree to them so at least they can understand what they are signing up for.
Don’t ask for all the permissions you need immediately after the user signs in to the app. For one, it is just plain creepy, and it is a sure-fire way to put a user on the backfoot. Instead, ask for permissions as you need them and first explain why you need them, this will not only make the user understand why the app needs it, but it will help reduce any fears they may have.
These tips will help you improve the sign-in and signup experience, but they are only tips. So you’re going to need to make sure to try them out, test them with users and tweak it based off user feedback.
Unfortunately, there are no such things as silver bullets, but we do have users who can help us figure things out.
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