A smooth sign up process
One of my favorite things about Write.as is the way users create accounts. I've always seen account creation as a major barrier to entry for any product, and sought out reducing it from the very beginning in my own.
But unlike many products that eschew a Sign up page for a multi-step process, Write.as actually functions well with varying degrees of information about a user. The pipeline goes a bit like this:
- Anonymous user (default). No cohesive account stored on the service.
- Reserved username. Account is created with nothing more than a username. Only the device the account was created on can access it.
- Authenticated account. Account has a second piece of information that allows a user to log in to that account from anywhere.
Once a user is at step 2, they can do everything a user can do — though only from that device. But to prevent losing access to their data, we prompt them to add authentication information on many backend pages, as well as prevent them from logging out until they add something that'll let them get into their account — whether that's an email address, password, or both.
After three months of users being able to register, we have some interesting stats. Out of all the accounts with authentication information:
- 74% have set a password
- 83% have set an email address
This shows how most new users add both an email and password, but overall, users' favorite authentication method seems to be via email, where they simply receive a one-time link to log in to their Write.as account. Many other online services have caught on to this too, like Slack and Medium. But for some switching to an inbox can be inconvenient, and for them there's always the trusty password.