by Conor Sheehan

Stop Making Me Sign Up!


Installing a new app can be exciting. When you’ve found one that may be just what you need, opening it is like unboxing a new toy. So why do so many apps insist on halting you in that moment to ask for an account?

By finding and installing an app, users have already shown some commitment to the product. It has earned a place on their home screen. When an app requires users to register or login, they are adding a layer of friction during the crucial first impression. Instead of being greeted with an account gate, what if users were introduced to the features and shown the ropes until their identity was necessary to establish?

Luke Wroblewski, Product Director at Google, has already discussed the measured benefits of gradual engagement. For the sake of curiosity, let’s take a trip through the App Store to see how teams are welcoming new users here in 2016. They tend to fall into one of three categories:

  1. Apps that wouldn’t make sense as an anonymous user
  2. Apps that require an account without obvious reason
  3. Apps that let you sign up after you explore

Certain Apps Depend on an Account

Social media apps are built around your identity. Connected devices need way to authenticate your access to your data and devices. Subscription services require that you prove that you’ve paid already.


Many Apps Use The Classic Account Gate

While signing up sometimes feel natural, most apps don’t need to revolve around an account.


If I were looking to find a Meetup for tonight, I would need to create an account and set a series of preferences before I can see what’s going on.



Rather than welcoming me with some of their awesome listings and impressive photography, I first have to commit to either making an account or remembering my password.



Really? You need me to sign in before I can read articles? The same articles that I can read through the web no problem?


A Better Way: No Sign Up Required

Then there’s also the apps that gradually engage their audience. Some of them allow you to skip the sign up till later. Some put you right in the app until you need an account.

Hotel Tonight

I can see all the nearby listings for last-minute hotel deals. I can even book the room without needing to sign in!



All I have do to find out what’s coming up in my area is set a location. Only once I want to register for an event does it ask for my email address.



YouTube tricked me at first. They make it seem like you need to log in, especially if you’re already logged in to Google elsewhere on your iPhone. But once you opt to select another account, it gives you an option to watch YouTube videos anonymously.


It’s a Give and Take

Keep your new users in mind when designing your app. One out five mobile apps are only opened once. That initial onboarding experience creates the precious first impression to your users. Don’t waste that time making them work when you could be showing off the value of your product.