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IP.Board 3.2.0: Sign In & Registration Interface

In this entry, I'll be showing the new streamlined Sign In and Registration process in IP.Board 3.2.

Registration in particular is a key interface in any community. Too complex, and users will be put off signing up and taking part, potentially costing your community dearly. We've known for some time that our current registration process has needed streamlining to improve user conversions, and IP.Board 3.2 has proven the ideal time to implement the changes.

Step by Step

Our registration routine (when IP.Nexus is used) is unusual in that it behaves as both a store and a sign up process (to enable users to select a subscription). While not everyone uses IP.Nexus, it's important for us to consider this aspect and find a suitable solution regardless of the products used.

To solve that, we've changed the registration routine to be a clear step-by-step process. First, a subscription is chosen if available. Next, account details are entered. Finally, the user gets confirmation. A step-by-step interface gives users clear expectations of the process they're about to follow, which is great for usability.

Reducing clutter and confusion

The current registration routine involves a number of disparate steps, collecting information that doesn't warrant an entire screen individually. This simply puts obstacles in the way of users trying to join.

The account details step now consists of just one screen. COPPA, terms and conditions and of course account information is all covered on the one screen.

COPPA, if enabled, appears as a modal popup. Instead of asking users to select their birthday (used only to verify they were older than 13), we now just ask the simple question: "Are you over 13?". Easy.

Once they confirm, the popup is dismissed instantly, and the form is ready for them to begin.

The registration form now consists of just 4 fields (6 if you use the Q&A and ReCaptcha features). So what's changed?

  • Display Name - we no longer show the display name field upon registration. Requiring users to choose two names invites confusion, and the difference is not apparent until the user is familiar with the community. But fear not, the display name feature hasn't disappeared. Instead, we set the display name to be the same as the log in name during registration, but users are free to change their display name later in their UserCP.
  • Confirm Email - There's no need to confirm the email address field. It's plain text, and many users simply copy and paste the first field anyway, duplicating rather than fixing an error.
  • Time Zone - Having the user choose their timezone simply adds to the burden of registering. Instead, we now try and determine their timezone automatically behind the scenes, and it can always be changed in the UserCP.

Another change is that the community terms and conditions are no longer presented on an entire screen. While important, they again present a roadblock to getting a user registered. Instead, they're now shown in an inline popup, and the user simply checks a checkbox to signify their agreement.

Custom profile fields set to 'show on registration' also appear on this page as usual. However, we urge you to consider whether a particular field is essential at registration! More fields equals more work for users, so the fewer the better!

Inline Sign In

Something that has been requested for some time is inline sign in, and I'm pleased to say it's now available in 3.2.

To simplify the process, users signing in with 3rd party systems such as OpenID will still be required to use the full sign in page. In our experience, though, the vast majority of users use the default IP.Board sign in, and the new inline popup should make the process a little easier for them.

We hope you find the changes give a boost to your community when IP.Board 3.2 is available. By streamlining registration and sign in, we hope to encourage your guests to convert to members and contribute to your community.

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