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Conversion: Reducing Sign Up Friction

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Do you truly need a sign up button or could you just display the sign up fields right on your home page instead?

How many free web services can you sign up for nowadays, by only providing a username, email and password? Countless.

The home page for these web services usually have one purpose: get people to sign up for a free account. Yet, many of these sites make it unnecessarily cumbersome to actually sign up. On the home page you can read a lot of text about all the amazing features, you can flip through screenshots of the product, and you can even watch video tours, yet still, you have to click a button and go to a new page just to see the actual fields you’re required to fill out in order to sign up.

By hiding your sign up form on a separate page*, your users don’t know if all you need is an email address and a password or if they have to fill out 15+ form fields with personal information in order to sign up. Also, having the form on a separate page requires an extra page load, and unless your site loads as fast as Google’s home page, that extra page load is additional friction in the sign up process.

The Easier, Faster Way

There’s a better way to design your sign up process. If you only have a few fields (5 or less) required to sign up, then don’t put the sign up form on a separate page – display them right on the home page instead.

This way you let people see how simple it is to sign up and get started. They don’t need to search around on other pages, they can just read your headline, see a few screenshots and then get started right there from the home page!

This idea isn’t original, but there a certainly a lot of companies that still haven’t caught on to it. This is despite the fact that Facebook – probably the most effective company in the world when it comes to getting people to sign up – is doing this.

Facebook's home page also display the fields required to sign up.

You can sign up for a free Facebook account right there on the home page. Facebook could however make the sign up even faster by turning the “select sex” drop-down into two radio buttons (one click less and users can see the options immediately).

Sure, companies without Facebook’s brand will need a bit more sales text, but the principle still apply – there’s no reason you can’t have the sign up form on the home page. Additional marketing text and graphics usually go below the fold anyways.

By having the sign up form right there on your home page, you make it easy and inviting for people to sign up and try out your web service.

Leon July 29, 2010 Reply to this comment

I can attest to the effectiveness of this. At work we run an annual event called National Customer Service Week. For 2010’s event I redesigned the site and made the registration form (essentially a newsletter signup) the most prominent element on the home page; there were just three fields to complete, and I made these really big (21px, I think).

Before, the sign up form lived on a registration page and consisted of 10 or so fields (including a password — registrants had to create an account to buy merchandise).

This means you have to write copy that tells visitors what the event is about in just a few words, but you should be doing that anyway. Pictures help here.

We’ve done less marketing this year but registrations are up nearly 300%.

We’ve since incorporated the microsite within our main site, so it’ll be interesting to see what that does to registrations.

Jamie, Baymard Institute July 29, 2010 Reply to this comment

That’s very cool Leon! 300% up – that’s pretty amazing.

I’d absolutely love to hear how this fares on your main site once you have more data on that.

John Nunemaker November 3, 2010 Reply to this comment

Great point. We updated http://get.harmonyapp.com to include the sign up form on the home page and pricing page, rather than having a sign up button/link.

Sanju February 17, 2011 Reply to this comment

is it recommendable to practice the same for an e-commerce site

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