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Rikki
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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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[quote name='marklcfc' timestamp='1302695320']
Good decision to remove display name from registeration screen, its a nightmare. Is there a mod to do that in the meantime btw?

Just skin it out or disable it for the initial 'member' group if needed. I don't use them usually anyway. Your question would be best asked in a support topic though please.


Back on topic: Excellent improvements and reduction of a few bits of clutter have made this look a lot better. :

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[quote name='Maxxius' timestamp='1302697018']

Though it would be cool to make a 4th step where user can fill in his custom profile fields is there is any.


I hope this is not left out. This is a legal requirement on my board.

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[quote name='Maxxius' timestamp='1302697018']
Nice and easy and overall amazing! :) love it!!Though it would be cool to make a 4th step where user can fill in his custom profile fields is there is any.


As stated, custom profile fields will show up in the same tab as username/password etc. if they are set to show up in the registration screen.

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Problem maybe, "First, a subscription is chosen if available" Will that still be there and #2 will show as your #1 and not confuse anybody? Cause if I was a user signing up on the board and the admin didn't have subscriptions enable and it jump to #2 and I see, as a user, that it skip from #1 to #2 and is say subscriptions. I'm would think I didn't sign up for any subscriptions and then would l just move on cause I wound think something could be up with the website and I may be sign up for something I didn't ask for. So this is a good way to go but giving the wrong information idea to the user in this example should be given some serious thought to address it in a different manner then currently given. A quick fix would be to renumber them and don't show #1 subscriptions at all when it now going to be added or turn on. This will not give off the false misunderstanding to the user signing up.

"Something that has been requested for some time"... is birthday date. I see this on the feedback many time. Having a user or an option to allow people to want or don't want it on the registration interface should be added. Telling the system to auto decline people are over or under X age.

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[quote name='Alex' timestamp='1302697696']
[quote name='Maxxius' timestamp='1302697018']
Nice and easy and overall amazing! :) love it!!Though it would be cool to make a 4th step where user can fill in his custom profile fields is there is any.


As stated, custom profile fields will show up in the same tab as username/password etc. if they are set to show up in the registration screen.



Yes but can you make it so that users have to fill it out or will the system just by pass it if it fill out or not? That was never stated.

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[quote name='ZakRhyno' timestamp='1302702326']
Problem maybe, "First, a subscription is chosen if available" Will that still be there and #2 will show as your #1 and not confuse anybody? Cause if I was a user signing up on the board and the admin didn't have subscriptions enable and it jump to #2 and I see, as a user, that it skip from #1 to #2 and is say subscriptions. I'm would think I didn't sign up for any subscriptions and then would l just move on cause I wound think something could be up with the website and I may be sign up for something I didn't ask for. So this is a good way to go but giving the wrong information idea to the user in this example should be given some serious thought to address it in a different manner then currently given. A quick fix would be to renumber them and don't show #1 subscriptions at all when it now going to be added or turn on. This will not give off the false misunderstanding to the user signing up."


If you don't have packages, the first step is the account details.

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Well. Interesting.

Only one thing: There should be window with basic boards rules (like now).

How many people will click on link Terms of Use? before confirm that they read it? 0,1%?

I have one rule before they put their login informations to field:

Do not use my board for advertisement!

This simple warning alert them before something what I DO NOT want to see on my board. If I put this to Terms of Use almost nobody will read it.

So please put there small (optional) window for this. Thanks.

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Rikki,

When you click on Terms of Use, will there be an ajax pop up showing TOS or user will be redirected to another page?

Edit: I see you mentioned about openID, what about windows live, twitter and Facebook logins? Other 3 are used on regular basis on our forums.

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[quote name='Rikki' timestamp='1302703069']
[quote name='ZakRhyno' timestamp='1302702326']
Problem maybe, "First, a subscription is chosen if available" Will that still be there and #2 will show as your #1 and not confuse anybody? Cause if I was a user signing up on the board and the admin didn't have subscriptions enable and it jump to #2 and I see, as a user, that it skip from #1 to #2 and is say subscriptions. I'm would think I didn't sign up for any subscriptions and then would l just move on cause I wound think something could be up with the website and I may be sign up for something I didn't ask for. So this is a good way to go but giving the wrong information idea to the user in this example should be given some serious thought to address it in a different manner then currently given. A quick fix would be to renumber them and don't show #1 subscriptions at all when it now going to be added or turn on. This will not give off the false misunderstanding to the user signing up."


If you don't have packages, the first step is the account details.


Yes but the graphic shows that the first step was skip, suggested to the user that something was added that they didn't want. My issue was trying to show was this will lead to a misunderstanding that they sign up for something (or added) that they didn't want to add and just close the page and move one. You could make it so that when it is just push to account details that it only show Account details and NOT step one being skip in the graphic. Meaning don't show step 1 in the graphic so it will not show it as misleading. Hopefully, you can understand what I'm saying here now. :)

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Zak: In my screenshot I have nexus installed, and I chose a package. If you don't have nexus installed, it doesn't 'skip' step 1, you'd simply see:

STEP 1: Account Details; STEP 2: Confirmation

There'd be no mention of choosing a package :)

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[quote name='Rikki' timestamp='1302707544']
Zak: In my screenshot I have nexus installed, and I chose a package. If you don't have nexus installed, it doesn't 'skip' step 1, you'd simply see:

STEP 1: Account Details; STEP 2: Confirmation

There'd be no mention of choosing a package :)


Okay then I guess my last question then is if I have nexus install but have no package option offer and I told it click the box to not be put on the registration screen, do I get the same out come? :)

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For the password field hint (ie. the grey text that says "Between 3 and 32 characters"), can you also hint as to whether characters other than letters and numbers are allowed. Many times when joining various sites have I tried to use other characters, like higher ASCII, brackets, symbols like, @!"£$%^&*, only to be told the passwords don't match (as some chars aren't allowed and seem to be silently stripped which affects the validation routine.) - It's very annoying. Alternatively, if most chars are accepted, just list the chars which aren't allowed.

Just poticed while typing this reply that no cursor is visible in the reply field. I'm using Firefox 3.6.15 on Winbdows 7. Is this a bug ?

Maybe related to the possible bug above, the other thing I'd like to see is the username/e-mail address editbox field automatically become active when signing in (ie. cursor should be flashing, so any input will go to that field).

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Excellent. Looks good.

One thing that is missing in 3.1 is a confirmation that your account has been validated !!!

You click the link in the email, your account is validated, but nothing happens - nothing confirms it has happened - you just end up on the login page.

Logic should possibly dictate your account is now validated, but there is no confirmation.

Could 3.2 please give a visual confirmation that your new account has been validated - maybe a "Congrats - your new account is ready - click here to login ... " (or even have the login fields on the page ready-to-go!!).

Cheers,
Shaun :D

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