Login forms on mobile: Is there a better way?

When you build a mobile community you’ll have to decide if users will be using accounts. Some mobile apps don’t require accounts — a user can just post content and it’ll show up on common shared boards.

Other mobile apps use accounts for profiles, tracking user activity. For a community owner capturing users’ email addresses and contact information gives you a way to convert random visitors into an audience you can reach out to. More importantly, accounts give you a mechanism for banning problem users.

If you decide your community needs accounts you’ll have to decide how the users will create those accounts and how they will log in. Historically users have usually filled out a signup form that includes username, password and email information. I used this approach when I created Poet’s Corner… and I have regretted it ever since!

The problem is, users forget how to log into your app. They become inactive and forget which email they used. They forget their passwords. They mis-spell their login credentials and… they email support… and it’s a constant drag.

These days there are better ways. One great way is to use Google Sign-in so that your users sign in with the same account they use with their phone. This means that if they forget their password it’s Google they email instead of you. Another approach is to tie a users activity to their phone number. Using this approach, a user doesn’t even need to create an account to begin posting content that you can track. Additionally, users generally only have one phone number so if you need to banned user would literally need to sign up for a new phone contract to create a new account in your community.

Both of these approaches drastically decrease signup friction and reduce time spent on support and that’s a win. So get rid of the signup form and reuse the accounts your customers already have.