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Recently I have noticed a trend on a number of blogs. It goes something like this...

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Hmmm. Asking random visitors to register an account when they only want to leave a one-off comment is a huge ask. Especially when there is a good chance registration requires email based activation, which takes even more time to deal with.

Speaking for myself, I'll usually just leave rather than posting a comment when registration is required. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I'm equally frustrated when I'm forced to register an account when I'm making a one-off purchase from somewhere. If I'm providing my name, email, address, and credit card details, as far as I'm concerned this is enough information to complete the order. I have abandoned a number of shopping carts because the registration process looked too painful.

And some good reasons

There are of course good reasons for requiring registration - maybe your blog is so popular it gets hundreds of comments on any given post, and restricting comments is a bigger issue than getting them. In this case, registration makes sense. Likewise if spam is more out-of-control than usual, then the registration also helps keep things manageable.

Combining registration forms with other forms.

Some of the best sites I have used combine the registration form with other forms.

Let's say the following details are needed for posting a comment...
  • Name
  • Email
  • website (optional)

And your registration process requires...
  • Name
  • Username / login
  • Password + confirmation
  • Email
  • website (optional)
  • Opt-in confirmation for newsletter

So why not modify the comment form to create a user account at the same time?

This could be as simple as adding optional fields for username / password / password confirmation. If the user has no interest in coming back, they don't need to create an account and clog up your user database. Otherwise, you are asking for a tiny bit of extra information in addition to what they are already providing. And you could pre-populate the username field with something based on their name, and use AJAX to check for duplicates, to make the process even easier.

Shopping carts

I have also seen shopping cart systems that email you a username / password after you have completed your order to make it easier to order next time. Let's face it, placing barriers in front of the ordering process is a really expensive idea - it makes sense to get the first order paid for and finished before getting too concerned about what happens with their second order.

I'm spending some time on implementing better registration features into Jojo CMS which includes easy user registration from blog comment forms and forum post reply / new topic forms. And introducing OpenID support into the mix means users can set up an account with even less typing.
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Tags: commentsusabilitypayment gatewaysjojo cmscomments "jojo cms" "payment gateways" usability