Optimizing the Registration and Sign-Up Process

Posted by Mark Thompson - April 5, 2010 - SEO - 5 Comments

For many websites, the primary goal is getting a user to sign-up or register.  That may mean registering for an account, creating a profile, signing up for a newsletter, providing user info to download a whitepaper, registering for a free trial, etc..

It is important to understand the users mindset as well as making it as easy as possible to complete a successful registration/sign-up.  Let’s take a look at some aspects of the sign-up process that should be thought about for higher conversions.

What Are You Providing the User?

Depending on what it is you are offering the user, will depend on what information you can confidently ask for from them.  If you are offering a free whitepaper, there is probably only a limited amount of information you can gather from them.  Odds are you will not be able to get their home address, from a simply whitepaper offer.  Now if you are providing a catalog or are shipping a product, then you obviously will need more information.

Basically it is a trade-off, the more value your offer has, the more information you can gather from the user.

Identify User Information Needed

Users are very cautious about what type of information they provide websites.  The more information you require, the more likely they are to not complete the form.  Even if you make all of the fields optional, the fact that you include  those fields can make a user leave.  That is why it is important to lay out a strategy on how you intend on getting your information from them.

  1. Request Essential Information First – Say to yourself, what mandatory information do I need to complete this process.  If there is information you can gather after they have signed up, wait till later to ask for that info.
  2. Gather Additional Information Later – Once the user has signed up and has had a chance to user your product, at that point you have probably built some credibility with the user.  So requesting additional information after the fact, may be more likely of obtaining.  If the user had an account created, make sure they can easily see a link to their account and have open fields for them to fill out the extra information at their leisure.  Try sending them a friendly email, asking that they fully complete their profile/account.

Map Out Registration/Sign-up Process

For each form you have on your website, it is important to map out the process of what happens from the beginning of the registration process, until the end.  Doing this will make it easier to see opportunities to optimize the process and improve on usability.

Social Profile Connect

Give a user the ability to login using an existing social media account.  With the majority of users already having accounts already created on sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Yahoo, the user will have the ability to user those login credentials to register for an account on your site.

Contact Form Optimization

Keeping your contact form, short and concise will improve the conversion rate on successful forms completed.  Don’t make your form a road block from allowing someone to complete a conversion.

  • Real-Time Validation: Using AJAX you can let the user know if the form field is valid.  For example, if someone is looking for a username, you can tell them if it is available before they have to submit their information.  This can notify the user if they need to change a field without the page refreshing.
  • Explain Each Field: Next to each field, tell them what and why the information is required.
  • Do Not Spam: Tell the user that you will not spam their email address.  This will help ease the users mind about giving your their primary email address.
  • Security Icons: If you are give sensitive information, use security symbols to show that the information they are providing will be protected.
  • Contact Form Design: How you design the form can play a large role in how many users complete it.  Try testing different buttons, colors, layouts, etc…for higher conversion rates.

About the Author

Mark Thompson

Mark is the creator of StayOnSearch and president of Search Creatively, a full-service Internet Marketing Company located in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also contributes to many industry related blogs including Search Engine Journal and is active on Facebook and Twitter. Follow Mark on Twitter