Sign up forms are extremely important on user driven web sites. They are the first point of contact between website and user – like a first date. Some sign up forms are intimidating, ask for too much information or confuse users. Take it slow on the first date and don’t make it too involved; the best sign up forms get your users in and using the product/service quickly and easily.
Foursquare’s registration form asks for too much information; some of it quite personal! Why do you need my gender, location and birthday? We don’t even know each other yet! The additional gray bars to the left remind you that there are even more things to do when you’re done with this already lengthy form! Would you really give your date a 5 page questionnaire before you even order drinks? Give it a break already! It’s best to ask for this information later on, maybe on the second or third date champ.
Gowalla’s registration form asks for essential information and looks like an easy, quick and simple process. It further streamlines registration by giving you hints as you enter information, even showing (in real time) if your desired username is already taken. In general the process is much less intimidating and easier. Talk about a first date with no fear of commitment!
At the risk of copying Gowalla’s approach, I took the liberty of mocking up a simplified version of Foursquare’s sign up form. Let’s start with Name, Email, Password. You can upload a photo if you’re the outgoing type; maybe you should use the one from your eharmony.com profile 😉
To make the sign up process easier, remove superfluous information from the form, giving users less reason to abandon the process. Ask the users for more information later on when they’re logged in and ready to play!
Make the first impression count and start a great relationship with your users. Asking for extraneous information or making them fill out a lengthy survey is a great way to screw up that first date.