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May 23, 2007


Jeroen Mulder

I absolutely love offering functionality for anonymous accounts. Many times it is completely unnecessary to complete a daunting sign-up process.

However, I've found it's not always a good idea. Over the last couple of months I've build an application where the user can store their search query. It's a small piece of information that shouldn't need to require sign-up.

After a day of usability testing I've found that is exactly the question some people asked themselves. Where is this information stored? How does it know who I am? Do I need to register to use it? Especially the latter question was quite a barrier for people to immediately use the functionality.

It all depends on the situation of course, but sometimes taking away the barrier of sign-up results in a barrier on its own.

Bryan Bedard

This concept was actually a major (and important) design decision for us when we built TerraClues. The game we created is not something people really understand until they give it a try. We wanted them to be able to jump in and start playing without having to create an account. However, this presented the problem that we needed to be able to track their progress. It's really easy to make use of "anonymous ID" in ASP.NET so if you are not logged in we just record your progress against your anonymous ID. If you want your progress to be permanent, just create an account. No one has ever complained about losing progress from hunts they played anonymously and I think there are a lot of people that never would have given it a try if they had to start by creating an account.

There are still some features we hide until you create an account, such as the ability to create a hunt for others to play. This is because you are creating content that others will see so we thought it was important that you always have a way to get back to it even if you switch browsers or delete your cookies.


This is exactly the kind of thinking that 2ch and its english language clones embrace. They've also got the flexibility to allow usernames for those who desire and a way (without registration) to allow people to prove their identity by entering in a passphrase when they post.


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