Daily UX Challenge 001: Sign up and/or Log-in

Platform to be evaluated: medium.com

Since the UX design challenge sets the day one to work with a “Sign up and/or Log-in” process, I decided to start with Medium, mainly because I’m not too happy with the way we have in this platform to sign-up/log-in when we haven’t linked a social profile to our account, and I’ve been thinking for a long time to ask the community and other users how they feel about this.

How the actual system works

On medium, when you don’t create your account with a social profile, you need to submit your email and go to your mail client to find a link that will let you set up your profile (no password), and whenever you are trying to login you will be asked do to the same: submit your email and then go to your mail and find a link that will give you the access you need.

Methodology

To evaluate the Sign-up and Log-in process of the platform I realized a short user testing with 6 users, I also researched about the best practices when it comes to sign-up/log-in process and conducted a user behavior analysis.

Participants

6 users were chosen to conduct the user testing(UT) and the user behavior analysis (UBA). 2 of the users have had medium accounts for more han 6 months, 2 knows the platform but doesn’t have an account and the other 2 were completely new to the platform but knows about blogging.

General scenario & tasks

Users were asked to perform 2 “simple” tasks:

  • Create an account on medium.com
  • Log out of your account and log back in

The task had a simple rule: you need to use the email option instead of performing the tasks with a social media account.

To get a better conclusion for this test I divided the users by devices, since we have 3 different type of users (based on knowledge of the platform), I gave to one user in each type a computer to perform the task and to the other one a smartphone.

The user testing results

Task completion

All the users were able to complete the tasks with different times and complaints about the process.

Problematics and concerns

Task #1 (create an account)

While all he users were able to perform this task, 5 of them were also worried about how the account worked because they were not asked to write a password or anything like it. It is important to mention that both of the users with a medium account were the ones with more confusion here, they are used to login with their social profile but this time there wasn’t a profile linked to the account.

Task #2 (log out and log back in)

4 of the users were able to perform this tasks successfully without directly expressing doubt or concerns with the process but once they finished they were expressing how problematic it is to be going out of the app/website to find an email and be able to access their account.

1 of the users performed the task with minor issues and the other one was not able to do it, mainly because it was not a personal device, therefore, their email accounts were not logged in. They had troubles remembering their email password, one of them just didn’t remember it and the other one explained how he uses long auto-generated passwords for security reasons.

Because of this issues the users spent more time than expected trying log-in, going in and out the platform several times before they completed the task or gave up.

The user behavior analysis

While performing the tasks set for the user testing I recorded the user faces and screens, this way I can link their facial expression with what they are doing at the moment, where exactly they are in the platform and have a personal though about it.

After replaying the videos of each user (which I’m not sharing because the users didn’t allow me to), I noticed that whenever they had to go out of the app/site to find an email, they looked upset or bored, usually saying something about “why they don’t have a password to do this faster”.

Conclusion

While we understand that no having to save passwords for all your users can be something good for the back-end of the platform, it also represents a problem for the users. The engage with an app/site tends to be lower when the users have to go out and in of the platform to perform tasks that can perfectly fit inside the app. It also represent a risk for the platform to loss the attention of the users, if the users go to their emails and find something “important” or that calls their attention more than what they were doing with your platform, they will spent time on that and can even forget about your product until coming back is a need.

Also we have the problem of user actions, as less actions the users needs to do to perform a task the easier it will be to remember it, and more important, even if they don’t remember the good thing about it, they will will not have a bad thing about it to remember either.

And yes, users can live with this issue but it will increase the good numbers of the platform to make them as happy as possible, and you only accomplish that by making thing easier for them.

Design Recommendations

A “magic link” to the users email is not bad, but give them options:

While we must admit that some users will prefer to do it the way it is now, for security reasons, because they don’t have to remember a new password or for whatever reason we can encounter, this kind of users ARE NOT all the users this platform has, so make all of them happy, give them the option to have the magic link as it is now, but give them other options too.

Remember medium, passwords will always be a option too:

Sign up

Sign up option with the “password” field.

Login

Login with password option