For anyone who spends a significant amount of time on the Internet exploring new sites, the process of having to create a user name and password for every new site becomes drudgery. It seems that sites have so many different password rules that make it impossible to create one user name and password for any site you go to. This process undoubtedly turns potential new visitors off and increases site abandon rates.
A site called ThinkVitamin.com refers to a research study that France Telecom did that shows that for each page or step of the registration process, 50% of site users abandon the site. I’d like to get my hands on this research study or others if anyone out there has access to them.
Given the above statistic, it would seem logical that more sites should adopt OpenID, an open and decentralized standard for people to visit many sites with one set of credentials. Wikipedia explains the history of OpenID. In the past 6 months, many large Internet companies including Google and Yahoo have signed on as providers. So for sites that allow you to register using OpenID, you can register with your Google or Yahoo account. But according to TechCrunch, Facebook is the first big Internet presence to become both a provider and a relying party. This means that new Facebook users don’t have to create login credentials specific to Facebook. They can log in with their OpenID. OpenID has been criticized for creating complicated user experiences in signing up for one. As an early adopter, I had a few issues using my first OpenID. They have been diligently working on this problem. OpenIDExplained.com is a site that does just that for the average web user.
The Benefits to Site Marketers
By making it easy to get credentials, site marketers can get visitors to stay on their sites longer (to actively engage rather than fooling with user names and passwords) and get them to return to their sites more easily. If the sign-on process is simple, new visitors should be much less reluctant to coming back and becoming acquainted with the features of a new site.
Has it worked? Web developer JanRain was an early adopter of OpenID and have been instrumental in its development. They have put together a list of sites that have used OpenID and how it has benefited them. Their goals were faster registration and an improved return visitor login process. Most impressive among the case studies are:
- PropertyMaps – a map-based real estate search site that increased registrations by 200% after implementing OpenID (with 25% of those registrations via OpenID)
- 37Signals – developer of web-based applications – currently has 15% of its audience (of 1 million users) logging in with OpenID
- Mixx – social news and content aggregator – saw a ten-fold increase in registrations via OpenID
If you are interested in implementing OpenID on your website, you can take a look at their developer page, where there are many great resources.
I think OpenID is the future. As consumers on the web, we gravitate to processes that are simple and as marketers, it’s our job to simplify them.
Update: Sears has announced adoption of OpenID to allow their users to log into their sites.
This will enable more than 1 million site users to log into the Sears’ and Kmart’s community sites and rate content, review products, and share information without the need for a separate login and password.
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