A record 80 billion mobile apps were downloaded in 2013 and projections show that number doubling in the next four years. While the number of downloads are increasing the attention span of mobile users is on the decline. With so many apps competing for your attention, mobile users are spending less time per app session than ever. For mobile apps requiring new users to signup this is a huge problem. “Signup fatigue” – where people delete an app before completing signup due to poor signup experience – is becoming more and more common. Mobile users want a lightning fast signup flow and they’re not willing to compromise. But how do you create a sign up process that balances fast access with the signup requirements of your app? Great question.
First, let’s take a brief moment to explore the most used signup flows in today’s mobile landscape. There are generally 3 approaches to mobile app signup:
1. Unique Account – This is the most traditional mode of signup. User’s create a unique username, password, enter an email address (and potentially a few additional fields). Depending on the amount of information required at sign up, this approach may require several screens to capture all required user data.
2. Social Login – Social Login is quickly becoming the normal signup flow on mobile devices. Typically, creating an account via Social Networks is as easy a few button presses. According to Social Login provider Gigya, Facebook (52%), Google (24%), Yahoo (17%) and Twitter (4%) are the top choices of their customers overall.
3. Hybrid – Offering both Social Login and Unique Account options is another popular signup flow. The Hybrid approach means users can sign up however they want, using email and username or using social media platforms.
The Hybrid approach offers the most flexibility to users, but does your app need the added complexity of multiple signup approaches? Is there a tangible speed advantage in using Social Login over Unique Account? Are there other ways to speed up new user signup?
How Top Apps Handle Signup
To help answer these questions, I decided to look at how today’s most popular mobile apps handle signup. In order to do this I randomly selected 6 of the top 30 free apps (excluding games) on the Apple App Store for comparison. From there, I focused on two key aspects of the signup process for each app: (1) what signup options are offered and (2) for each signup option, how quickly can a user complete signup.
For the first key aspect, signup options offered, Five out of the six apps favored the Hybrid approach.
App Signup Options Offered
Skype was the only app not offering Social Login to their users. In terms of Social Login choice, Facebook was by far the most frequently selected. Facebook’s ubiquity as a social login choice falls nicely in line with Gigya’s social login data presented earlier.
Now onto the second key aspect of signup, speed! To measure how quickly a user can complete the signup process, I used a proxy of required user interactions. User interactions were defined as the minimum number of button taps plus the number of text fields required to complete signup. With a clear counting rule established, user interactions were tallied for all signup options for each of the six apps. The table below illustrates the results. The red bars represent required button taps and blue bars are required text field inputs.
Required Number of Interactions to Complete Signup 1,2
Takeaways: How to Make Your Signup Flow Lightning Fast
- Use Social Login! On average it requires about 50% less interactions than Unique Account. Requiring a Unique Account generally required me to go through several screens in order to complete signup.
- If you need to support unique users, take the Hybrid Approach. The popular apps evaluated in this study almost unanimously selected this flow. When using the Hybrid approach consider putting more weight on Social Login (by listing social first or making it stand out visually). This UX strategy to push users towards the faster Social Login flow, without alienating those who want a unique account.
- If you’re looking to use only one Social Login choice, Facebook is probably your best bet. Facebook was the most common choice for Social Login by the apps evaluated in this study.
- AirBnB was the only app app in the study allowing users to explore before signing up. Consider allowing your users to test out your app without signup for even faster access. If interacting with a feature requires signup, let your user know with a simple friendly message. If users find value in an app, they’ll be happy to sign up.
Keeping the sign-up process as simple as is practical has never been more crucial. Simplicity means a faster path to access for new users, and a higher conversion rate of downloads to users. Social Login combats “signup fatigue” providing users faster access to their favorite apps. However, providing users the option to create a unique account is still a common practice. When deciding to implement a unique account flow, consider limiting the amount of required information, and breaking down the signup process into several bite size chunks. Finally, when using the Hybrid signup flow, think about putting more emphasis on Social Login, especially if there are tangible benefits like connecting with friends and easier sharing to social networks.