Facilitating the creation of user accounts can be an asset for a website and its brand. It can strengthen the bond between or website and visitor while allowing the reputable acquisition of contact details for marketing purposes. However, a gratuitous or poorly-realized user registration option can drive visitors away from the site. What’s more, we nowadays notice many websites going for this option by default, while it is not strictly necessary (or even ideal) in some cases. So it helps to think about whether your website (and your visitors) truly need it – and if so, why?
Whether as an optional task or a requirement for continued use, a website must justify the need for user registration. There are pros and cons for user registration on several different types of site.
By naturally integrating user registration into the transaction process, e-commerce sites can gain marketing information to promote deals and generate repeat custom. User registration also has more explicit bonuses for consumers, including the ability to track their current order status. The option to create wishlists can also encourage users to not only return to the site but to spend more time browsing items. This creates a deeper investment in the brand.
User registration exists to make consumers’ life easier when they return to the site. However, some shoppers may be using a site for a specific one-off purchase. Being required to sign up for an account can also deter first-time customers. After all forced user registration is estimated to cause the abandonment of 35% of e-commerce transactions. If a business takes particular pride in offering an efficient service, the ability to check out as a guest may be more suitable than mandatory user accounts.
Registration is a natural requirement for MMO games, as well as entertainment platforms like Netflix, giving the players the chance to customize a character and to build friendships with other members of the community in the former case, or pick up where they left and get personalized recommendations in the latter. User accounts are also advantageous for games where players progress through levels, or where they develop their character over time. Registration allows gamers to jump back in without losing their data. This ensures that the user account feels both justified and appreciated.
While user registration is essential in some scenarios, it can create unnecessary delays in other instances of online entertainment platforms. Having minimal friction is particularly important. If someone accesses a gaming site, they simply want to play games. If a game is single-player and generally completed in one sitting, such as most casino games, then the lack of user registration produces a frictionless gameplay experience. This is why no account casinos are gaining in popularity, to allow players to focus on gaming rather than filling in forms.
A growing number of news sites now require user registration to grant access to premium content, or to remove limits on the number of articles permitted in a timeframe. In this case, user registration has a clear benefit, since signing up and logging in grants access to a high-quality product. Readers can also invest more time into the site and the brand, by commenting on news articles, while the moderation of comments becomes easier for the website when all users are registered.
Many news sites have taken user registration to the next level with subscription models, but research indicates that even people who actively enjoy paying for news usually only pay for one subscription. Given the plethora of news sites and blogs that have no paywalls or login walls, introducing compulsory user registration can make the competition seem more attractive. Many people access news articles through search engines and social media posts; if they are greeted by a pop-up demanding registration, they are likely to return to the search results and find a more accommodating site.
Above all, user accounts must have clear benefits for the users. Registration for the sake of harvesting marketing information will ultimately alienate consumers from the brand. Registration for the sake of unlocking extra features can have the opposite effect. Keep all this in mind while working on your next website, and you’re more likely to make an informed decision.