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5 ways to a happier and more productive signup process

In our latest Signup and Trial Process Benchmark Report we audited 10 popular web-based applications to find out for ourselves how users experience signups and trials. From our results, we wanted to share some tips on how to make your signup process even better!

1.     Minimize your signup funnel

The number of steps in your signup funnel can greatly affect the signup experience, making it either short and sweet or long and never-ending. In some cases, multi-step signups can be helpful in filtering out evaluators that aren’t serious so if you have a lot of steps, make sure they serve a purpose.

Rule of thumb: review your trial steps to make sure you have the minimum steps necessary, and postpone what you can to a later stage in the usage lifecycle.

2.     Keep your information cost low

“Information cost” is defined by the total number of fields that a user must complete to sign up. People don’t like to volunteer information about themselves, especially before they’ve built some level of comfort and trust with the person or entity they’re giving it to. So make sure that if you’re asking for information, there’s a good user-centric reason for asking for it.

Rule of thumb: ask yourself, are you willing to lose a potential user if they won’t provide a certain data point?

Yes? –> Then the information you require is critical for the user and the app, so it stays

No? –> The information isn’t a must-have and should be removed from your critical signup funnel

3.     Keep effort investment low

You need your users’ cooperation to complete sign up, however any effort required on their behalf can slow them down, stress them out and put in danger a successful signup. One way to keep effort investment low is to limit the number of decisions your user has to make to get started. Remember: when faced with a decision, sometimes users will default to “I don’t know” – which could throw the entire signup process into a tailspin.

Rule of thumb: if you’re offering a multi-plan trial and some decisions must be made:

  • Limit the amount
  • Make decisions simple and easy to make
  • If possible, allow users the option to skip a step and postpone making a decision until after their trial has begun

4.     Set expectations & light the path to your app

At the start of a lengthy or complicated signup process, if expectations haven’t been set, users are in the dark about how much information they’ll need to volunteer and how long it will take them to complete. It can be quite frustrating to complete one form (thinking that the process is over), only to be taken to another form asking for more information. At the start, if users are given a general idea of what will be required, they’ll have a much easier time committing to the process and seeing it through in good spirits.

Rule of thumb #1:

If your signup process includes more than one or two steps/forms, give your users a heads-up with graphic tools such as breadcrumbs, tabs, or a checklist. That way they can easily tell whether they’ll be done in a breeze, or working into their lunch break.

Rule of thumb #2:

In cases where many fields are requested, use helpful visual markers like small question mark symbols that can display information upon rollover, or brief explanations above or below the fields required, to explain why the information is required and how it will be used. Knowing this will make your users more willing to give their info and move forward with the process

5.     Avoid fancy footwork during the delicate signup process

Although every sign up process is unique to each app, there are certain standard identifiers that communicate to the user what is expected of them and what they can expect from clicking a button, filling out information, etc. If you’re trying to reinvent the wheel by placing a form in the margins, leaving out clear titles communicating what the form is meant to accomplish, or creating buttons with creative and humorous text…all these things can shake users’ confidence and make them doubt themselves.

Rule of thumb: steer clear from being overly creative with standard processes. Locating forms in unexpected places doesn’t make you look clever; it makes you look unprofessional and shakes your users’ confidence.

Don’t forget to check out the full report and 4 bonus tips to a happier and more productive trial process.

Ellis Luk

I'm the marketing and communications manager at Totango - but you can call me Chief Content Officer. When I'm not writing, you can find me obsessing over memes, debating grammatical usage or getting distracted by the latest Tumblr gif blogs. Customer love starts with a friendly hello!

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