To Use Automatic Registration Or Not

Allowing social network registrations on your site can be a huge boon to signing up users quickly. There's a few things you should consider while implementing the registration flow. It's extremely easy to use the "Enable Automatic Registration" setting in JFBConnect so that you have a simple, 1-click social network login process. It couldn't be simpler to let users register, have their account created, email address, avatar and profile imported quickly. So you'll probably be surprised to hear it's not the best option for all sites.

Always Consider Your Users First

With any feature you add to your site, the first question you should always ask is: How will the impact the users? Some things you add will help them, others may make things more difficult. At the end of the day though, it's your job to balance things out, and social network authentication has it's own sets of pros and cons.

Automatic Registration

Most JFBConnect customers automatically assume they want Automatic Registration. It can be a game-changer on many sites to speed up the registration flow and not scare your users away. The benefits are:

  • 1-click registration with a social network
  • Joomla account is automatically created
  • User's profile (bio, interests, hometown, etc) automatically imported and set in your profile extension of choice
  • User can later return and login with social network or Joomla credentials

Sites Best for Automatic Registration

Any site that you want a friction-free registration experience is best to use the automatic registration flow. While you might think all sites want that, there are exceptions. Usually, friction-free is necessary if it's the first step necessary to do something else immediately in your site. Most importantly, that next step should be very important.

A shopping cart site is a perfect example. The registration flow needs to be as quick as possible. If it slows the user down, they may reconsider their purchase. The registration flow must be as frictionless as possible so the user can go through the purchase process which is likely more important to you, the site owner.

Mini Registration

The mini-registration flow may not be familiar to everyone, but it's a hybrid of a 'normal' registration flow that many profile extensions implement and the automatic flow above. When a user goes through a mini-registration flow, they authenticate with the social netowrk, but then are sent to a smaller registration page with fields pre-filled with data from their social network, and others they can fill out on their own. The main benefits of this flow are:

  • User can select their own username
  • User can edit any profile fields that are imported from a social network, in case they want different information on your site
  • Additional questions can be asked about information that isn't available from the social network
  • Fields that you (the admin) don't want to show, can easily be hidden, reducing the registration process

This allows complete control of the registration process. You can easily show a username field, hide password, name and bios fields while including some other questions thare specific to your site.

Sites Best for Mini Registration

Whenever you have a site that the user wants to engage with, a slightly longer registration process isn't an issue. If the user wants to join in a discussion and participate in the site, they'll be willing and wanting to take the time to provide more information about themselves. It will help them integrate and take part in the conversation quicker.

If your site is primarily a blog with a comment area, forums, or some other 'community' site meant to discuss a specific topic, mini-registration is likely the best way to go. It lets the user customize their own experience on your site.

Your Choice for Your User's Experience

That was a pretty quick post, but hopefully explained a really important topic well. It's easy to make snap decisions about how users register, but it's one that will affect your site from that point on. Take your time, consider what your users want and expect, and, above all, test variations to see what works best.

Of course, we'd love to hear your thoughts on what works best for you. Let us know in the comments below!

Alex Andreae

Alex co-founded SourceCoast Web Development in 2008. Based in sunny Florida, SourceCoast develops extensions for integrating your Joomla powered website with popular social networks. He has spoken at more than a dozen Joomla User Groups and Joomla Days, including the Joomla World Conference in both 2012 and 2013. Topics have included social networking for Joomla, running a business around Joomla extensions, and Joomla development.

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