The Overlooked Feature Blocking SaaS Engagement

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The most overlooked feature that's blocking SaaS engagement

Every digital product has it, but most brainstorming, design and functionality sessions skip over it.

It is the login screen. Don’t roll your eyes. I’m serious.

Your login screen is the first experience a user has of using your app or SAAS, but all too often it acts a barrier to buy from or engage with your product.

Don’t believe it could have such an impact? Aren’t log-ins pretty standard now anyway?

Here’s a list of things I’ve not been able to do because of lazy log-in design and overcautious passwords in the last week alone:

  1. Rent or buy anything via Apple TV since I had to change my password. I have to get up and confirm my account on my computer – not happening when I have a mouthful of pasta at the end of a long day staring at my monitor. It doesn’t even allow me the option of doing this on my ipad, which is usually nearby.
  2. Log into my Audible account. Before it joined Amazon, Audible used a username instead of an email address as a login. Well, it seems I got creative with the username, and I must have stopped using whatever email account it was registered to because the ones I enter aren’t being recognised. Do you think I feel inclined to buy more audiobooks from them with my Amazon log in? NOPE. I’ll stream podcasts, but that’s it until I can recover my old audiobooks.
  3. Use Twitter on my desktop. Every time I log in, I get an email saying there was suspicious activity on my account. Like Pavlov’s dog, I’ve now been conditioned to stop logging in from my desktop. Only, I also don’t log in often from my mobile often because of too many notifications. Great way to drive up user engagement, Twitter!

I won’t go over Twitter’s and iTunes password paranoia, because Joel Califa does it better in Patronising Passwords, which I encourage you to read.

Suffice to say: if your product requires your users to download, subscribe to and maintain a separate desktop and mobile product to access them, your user experience and product design are deeply flawed.

if a product requires users download, subscribe 2 & update a separate product to login, it's flawed Share on X

So what to do instead?

1) Never give the option to log in with a username.

2) Always give the option to sign up and log in with Google/Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn, depending on your audience. This solves having to remember what email address you used and leaves password issues to those services to handle, not you.

NOTE: I’ve used popular apps that allow you to sign up with one of these accounts, but then expect you to log in thereafter with your email and password, while still showing the social media buttons. This is confusing, as I inevitably hit them thinking I’ll sign in with them and wind up on the registration page. Don’t rely on users saving their logins in their browser. Don’t expect people to read the friendly instructions under the login.

3) Mock up the user flow of lost passwords, security challenges, suspicious activity notices, etc. Ask yourself, if this happened to you on your commute home, how long would it take you to be back inside the product and completing key tasks? How often might it happen? When can it break?

4) Test signups, logins and password resets when you’re busy, distracted or only have a few minutes to get in and out. That’s when you’ll have a harder time remembering passwords or inventing secure passwords, and it’s a more accurate to many “real life” use cases.

5) Ask yourself: what happens if your app is bought by Big Inc and google/FB/Twitter logins are no longer ok? Repeat step 3.

6) If you are bought by Big Inc, give your users the option to merge their old account login with their new Big Inc login. Save everyone the hassle of trying to remember what email address they were using 8 years ago. Audible has yet to implement this, which is interesting.

People want to buy from you and engage with you. Don’t make it hard.



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