3 Responses to “How can I sign in when I don’t know who I am…?”

  1. Hi Pete,

    Nice writeup.

    The site didn’t offer any “new customer” incentives, so that wasn’t why people were creating multiple accounts.

    The main reason we discovered was that people just couldn’t remember the username/password combinations. Since, for security purposes, it didn’t tell you which was wrong, you had no clue if you just couldn’t remember the password or if you had the wrong email address.

    If you had the wrong email address, then the recover-your-password functionality wouldn’t work (because it sent it to the wrong address). If you had the right address, it was still a hassle to retrieve your password. Creating a new account was easier no matter what, so people did.

    Where they go into serious trouble was the folks who tried to create new accounts, but the system wouldn’t let them because the email address was already in use. In many cases, those customers just took their business elsewhere instead of trying to figure it out.


  2. Thanks for the reply Jared; as a new blogger it’s nice to know somebody has actually read my comments!

    I do wonder how critical a security measure it is to not reveal whether it’s the email or password that’s incorrect. Personally I think the trade-off of a slight edge in security against decreased usability just isn’t worth it, but I suppose that depends entirely on the nature of the application at hand.

    As for trying to register with an existing email address, the problem seems that this is normally treated as an input error – ie the form reloads with a big error at the top – much as it would had you missed out a mandatory field. What would make more sense is to acknowledge the source of the problem is as you mention and rather than going straight back to the form, give them the option of sending a password reminder to that email address with a single click, and allow you to resume checkout once you’ve logged back in.


  3. wasd says:

    I’d like to know what platform was used that allowed people to purchase without registering.

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