8 Tips for Account Registration

A couple years ago I signed up for accounts at 87 of the top online retailer sites. I figured it was high time we revisited this topic, since most ecommerce sites use account registration and every sign up process I’ve seen has at least one area it can improve on.

Registration Form Usability Tips

1. Always state benefits of signing up in bullet form

Only 14% of retailers in my study were taking advantage of this.

Williams Sonoma is a good example of doing it right:

williams sonoma account benefits

Here are some suggested benefits:

* Faster check out
* Save multiple shipping locations
* Save multiple billing options
* Exclusive offers
* Order tracking
* View order history
* Faster customer service (reps can pull up customer info quickly)
* Save items to wishlist
* Save items in cart
* Check reward point balances
* Incentives for referring friends
* Birthday and holiday reminders
* Access across partner stores (e.g. GAP, Banana Republic, Old Navy, Piper Lime, Athleta)

2. Link to your privacy policy

Make your privacy policy link clear near the Create Account call-to-action. None of the tested sites leveraged this point-of-action assurance – but I did spot Gap using it:

gap privacy policy

3. Use asterisks

Using asterisks (*) beside fields that are required is a web convention. Customers usually don’t want to give away more information or fill in more fields than they need to, so this is a nice visual cue to assure them certain fields are optional.

Place your asterisk near the label, not at the far right side of the input field – much easier to scan.

Not this:

asterisks near input fields

But this:

asterisks near labels

4. Explain password rules

When asking customers to provide an email and password, clearly state the “rules” of the password up front (minimum number of characters, required numeric value etc).

2 years ago, Neiman Marcus didn’t show password rules, but they’ve since fixed this:

neiman marcus signup

In my study, 100% of retailers asked for passwords, but only 89% used a “repeat password” field. It’s a good idea to have one, since it’s easy to make a typing error when you can’t see the characters of your password as you type.

5. Avoid security questions. Instead send a confirmation email with login details.

Nobody remembers those things and according to user testing studies by Jakob Nielsen, customers really, really detest them. 20% of retailers in the study asked these questions. Be one of the 80% who don’t.

6. Allow customer to copy billing address to shipping address

Just like in the checkout, this can save the customer time.

copy billing address to shipping

7. Don’t pre-check email opt-ins and don’t send promotions without gaining permission

Welcome emails are fine, and encouraged. Send your welcome email within 24 hours, if possible. The longer you wait, the less relevant your welcome message.

8. Allow customers to tell you their preferences

Using profile data for targeted selling purposes can be very effective. Improving the relevance of your merchandising, email campaigns and promotions can increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and conversion rates.

Disney Shopping is still one of my favorite examples of this:

Disney Shopping Preferences

Want to see the breakdown of my 2007 registration study? Check out this post, and companion post on welcome emails.


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