No One Needs Another Dormant Account

Imagine you’re on a first date. You were introduced through a friend and he or she looks nice. Is your first move a kiss? Do you just ask for it up front? Or do you have dinner, get to know each other, see where things are going and then, go in for the kiss? Most likely you’d do the second one!

Now consider this scenario:

You’ve gotten me to download your app. That’s a big win in itself. Now you’re going to ask me to create an account and give you all my information before you’ve even proven this app is valuable to me?

To me, this is a broken interaction model. I don’t want to make another account. I have a ridiculous number of accounts all over the internet and the last thing I need is to create another on some app that I don’t know if I’ll ever use again.

Maybe I’m the only person with this aversion, but I had a particularly bad experience the other day. A friend had recommended I download a meditation app. I had set aside ten minutes to try out this app while my pasta cooked. I opened up the app and it asked me to create an account. Okay, fine. I had a recommendation from a friend that this is a good app, so I can deal with this. I tried to connect through Facebook, but I didn’t remember my Facebook password (because it stays logged in on all my devices and I have a password manager on my laptop in case). I spent minutes fumbling around trying to come up with the password. Eventually I created my own account and the app stalled out and didn’t load the next screen.

At this point, my ten minute block of peace turned into a time of frustration because of this required account creation. Was it really necessary for me to create an account on this meditation app? Eventually you want the person to make an account so they can save data, upgrade to a paid plan, etc.. but the why not ask after a couple uses?

On the other hand, yesterday I had a great experience in trying out a new application for my inbox called “Sortd.” What made it so great was they showed me the value before they asked for all these permissions to my accounts. There were detailed walkthroughs and a compelling video demonstration before I made the leap into downloading the Chrome extension and granting permissions.

Video walkthrough of Sortd

For some applications, an account is necessary for the user experience to truly work, and I understand that. But I’d argue there are many ways around your first interaction with an app to be creating an account. Even on Facebook, without creating an account, it could show you a sample newsfeed or allow you to search for a current friend on Facebook. If none of these things apply, you could always show a video demonstrating key use cases.

The big takeaway from this is that consumers are skeptical. I consider myself more willing than most to try new technology, but only if I see a perceived benefit. If you’re creating a product or service, put those benefits front and center. Present them to potential users before you ask anything of them.

What user experiences have annoyed you and delighted you recently?

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