8 Reasons Users Don’t Fill Out Sign Up Forms

by on 04/05/12 at 10:14 am

Signing up for a website is a big commitment to most people. Users who sign up for your site are giving you their personal information. If you misuse their personal information, you could abuse their trust. Most users today are more wary than ever about who handles their personal information. In a cyber world full of hackers and spammers, who can blame them? If you aren’t seeing many sign ups, your form is probably raising a red flag for users. Make sure it’s not one of these.

1. Fear of getting spammed

Most users are afraid that if they sign up for a website, they’ll get spammed. This is mainly a problem for sign up forms that ask for the user’s email. If you ask for the user’s email, make sure to note next to the field what you’ll use their email for. This will ease users’ spam fears, and make them feel more comfortable about giving you their email.

8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

2. Fear that a Facebook/Twitter sign up will spam followers & friends

Users don’t like to get spammed and they don’t want to spam others either. Facebook and Twitter sign ups are known for automatically spamming followers and friends with updates on user activity. If you are going to use a Facebook/Twitter sign up, make sure to let users know that the application won’t automatically post messages and updates for them.

8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

3. No option to delete account

Sometimes users sign up for sites and eventually don’t want to use them anymore. Giving users the option to delete their account will comfort those users who don’t want to leave a paper trail of their activity on the web. Let them know on your sign up form that they can delete their account at anytime so that they won’t have to worry about their personal information showing up on your site forever.

8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

4. Feeling insecure with personal information handling

If users are going to give you highly sensitive information, such as their credit card number or home address, they want to know that your site will handle their information securely. This includes encrypting their information on your server in case your site gets hacked or falls into the wrong hands. Let users know that their information stored on your servers are encrypted and secure.

8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

5. Too much work to fill out compared to value gained

If your form is long and is a lot of work to fill out, users will weigh the effort it takes to complete your form against the value they’ll get from using your site. If the value they get is little, they’ll pass on your form. However, if the value they get is a lot, they’ll put in the extra effort to get what they want. A general rule is to ask for the minimum information you need so that you don’t overwhelm them. You can always get more information from users after they sign up.

8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

6. Asking for information users don’t think you need

Everything you ask users should relate to the use of the website. If the user feels that something you’re asking for isn’t necessary, they’ll either give you fake information, or they’ll forget about filling out your form. If you have to ask for something that the user might question, put a note next to the field explaining why you need that information.

8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

7. Asking for their credit card number for a free trial

Free trials are offered so that users can try a site to see if they like it before they commit. Asking for their credit card number for a free trial is asking users to take a big security risk before they have committed to your site yet. Even if you’re not going to charge them during their free trial period, most users don’t feel comfortable giving out their credit card information just to try your site. Give users their free trial first without asking for a credit card number. Then remind them towards trial expiration that if they want to continue services, they need to buy.

8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

8. Product/service is not clear or appealing

When users visit your home page, they should have a clear idea of what your site is offering them. If they don’t, your home page needs work. Users won’t sign up for a site they don’t understand or find appealing. Appeal to users by clearly stating and showing what your website offers and the benefits they’ll get from using your site.

8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

It’s about user trust and comfort

Getting users to fill out your sign up form is all about trust and comfort. Earn your users trust by taking security precautions with their information, and being transparent with why you need a particular piece of information. Make them comfortable by giving them control over their information, and only asking for what you need at the time of sign up. If you can do all this on your sign up form, users won’t have any reason not to sign up.


8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms 8 Reasons Users Dont Fill Out Sign Up Forms

Author and editor-in-chief of UX Movement. Loves great web experiences and fights for the user.

48 Responses to “8 Reasons Users Don’t Fill Out Sign Up Forms”

  1. ux design

    Apr 5th, 2012

    Great article. I really like the one with the CC’s needed for trial. Most companies don’t need it but the ones that do, I am weary of.

  2. Olivier

    Apr 5th, 2012

    I think you summarized it all. Crisp & clear. Don’t give visitor a reason to leave

  3. Mirek

    Apr 6th, 2012

    Thanks for the interesting article.

    May I ask, how did you found out those information? Is that from some statistics, is that just your opinion, or your experience? It would be interesting to know how many percent (roughly of course) users each factor will prevent to sign-up.

    Also (an idea for a new article), I would like to know, if I won’t provide an option to SignUp with Facebook/Twitter, how many percent of users I am going to loose, if any.

    • Rachel

      Jan 30th, 2013

      I’ve personally heard users in lab studies verbalize many of the items here. Particularly, concerns about email spam and Facebook spam (the app posting on behalf of them). As well as asking for information that isn’t “needed”.

  4. Oron

    Apr 6th, 2012

    This is exactly why I built air mail to let you quickly fill registration forms and try new services without exposing your email.

    http://getairmail.com

    • Sam

      Oct 28th, 2012

      Are you advertising? It sure appears so. I am leery of that also when someone splatters a website to sign up on. Makes it look like hackers are after a person.

  5. Name (required)

    Apr 6th, 2012

    #9 – Feeling insecure with identity being linked/Desire for anonymity

    I am many things, a veteran, a PhD, a member of the LGBT community and frankly I don’t want all my identities linked. While there is occasionally an overlap between my professional and personal life, or between aspects of my personal life, I will not voluntarily link them without a very explicit reason.

    If I’m making a one off comment on someone’s blog – you probably don’t need to know who I am. In such cases, there do need to be good spam handling methods (Personally I’m a big fan of the “spam” buttons next to comments.)

    One case that really gets my goat is stackexchange. I have a lot of varied interests, so I’ve participated in at least a dozen different stackexchange sites, and I don’t want my identity on one site linked to my identity on another site (e.g., Stackoverflow, Statistical Analysis, and English Language and Usage). If you use the same email account (even with modifiers, e.g., Username+Mod1@gmail.com is the same to the stackexchange as Username+Mod2@gmail.com) ALL of your accounts are linked.

    And frequently even when I’m okay setting up a user account, sometimes I still want to post something anonymously. PhinisheD.org is the only site I’ve ever seen to do it, but I love AFT. Users still have to be logged in, but with “Anonymous for this” they can also post anonymously.

    When dealing with small or new services I don’t know if they’re going to be sold to another service and start linking my different identities in ways I don’t want them linked. I actually got a Facebook account when only college students and alumni with .edu email accounts could get an account. I no longer use Facebook.

    Another one that highlights where something as simple as a sign-on to a one-off service starts linking my digital identities in ways that I don’t approve. I was fine having a gmail account and I used to use a lot of Googles other services – when they weren’t linked. Then Google linked all of a users accounts. So now, even if you didn’t have an account with a specific service your activity is linked into a single identity (e.g. if you’re logged into any google service and go watch a stupid kitten video on YouTube it’s linked to your account even if you never set up a YouTube account).

    • k1

      Apr 19th, 2012

      Hi, agree with your comments, especially re having multiple interests that do not necessarily need to be linked but my limited experience of using Google is that if I happen to be logged in to one of my various Gmail accounts, Google happily makes a connection between that and whatever else I happen to be doing at that time — all without there actually being any logical connection. In other words, confusing the system seems not just possible, but practically inevitable, albeit that this happens accidentally, in the way that life itself is a random thing that is not replicable by computers. How nice!

  6. Fredrik T. B.

    Apr 6th, 2012

    Also, don’t ask for information too early. Like a site selling physical goods that will show you the price of shipping at checkout, but requires you to sign up, giving them all you information, to get there.
    Until I know the total cost of the purchase I don’t know if I wan’t to buy; and if I’m not going to buy I don’t want to give you my information.

  7. Andrew

    Apr 6th, 2012

    The irony of this post is that, I cant see the input boxes on your reply form. Name, Email, Website appear to float in mid air. And email is not necessarily required (especially since I came across your website casually, and will only use it once/twice.

    You might also want to look into the hidden input field for comment_post_ID. Might make it really easy to write a program that places comments on all your articles.

    -Andrew

  8. hamid

    Apr 6th, 2012

    Yeah.
    3 and 4 are the real ones for me.

  9. planetheidi

    Apr 6th, 2012

    “This site uses SSL technology to help ensure…. ” actually makes me LESS confident that a site knows how to secure my data. Having an encrypted connection is a minor, facile piece of security and often it is the only piece of security a site may implement. “We’ve got SSL so we’re done.” The real work is hardening the site, testing your security, and managing your processes. SSL alone is like having an armored car drop off the money at a park bench. I see sites that mention as a red flag they’re clueless.

    • Mark

      Apr 30th, 2012

      Exactly what I was thinking.

    • yellow

      Aug 1st, 2014

      What’s worse is painting your site in lock icons when the SSL is broken or compromised and the lock icon in the browser is indicating as much.

  10. mailbait

    Apr 6th, 2012

    http://mailbait.info gets a few of these right, but fails horribly on the ‘fear of getting spammed’ part. I’m not sure how that could be changed, given their entire business model is to ‘Fill your INBOX’

  11. Rick

    Apr 6th, 2012

    A big part of the problem with signups is friction – its a multistep process to signup for a website, confirm your email, and then go back there. OpenId or big services like Facebook were supposed to solve this problem, but then you have an issue Facebook Apps greedily asking for way more permissions than they need to run their App – the end result is that people are way more hesitant than they should be to use these login services, so that’s harder to justify. People talk about Facebook sharing data with companies through ads, but regardless of whether people use the types of companies listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com/ or Facebook ads directly, no company advertising on Facebook is getting access to any personally identifiable information through ads – the Apps issue is much bigger. I think that overall, keeping signup forms as short as possible would do well to help increase overall conversions.

  12. Untrusting Visitor

    Apr 6th, 2012

    You got reason #4 very wrong. SSL protects transaction communication but does absolutely nothing to ensure “their information stored on your servers are encrypted and secure”.

    You left out another big reason. Yet another website registration means yet another password in most cases. I have to remember way too many passwords as it is.

    Another reason is that my choices for username are highly likely to be denied, making me repeat the registration several times. I am mystified as to why this is, but obscure words from the dictionary will be claimed already used even when they are not. Lying to me does not encourage trust. Security depends on good passwords, not cryptic usernames, so why do so many sites insist on making me remember a cryptic username in addition to the password.

    I know that the vast majority of website registrations will eventually result in me being spammed, so giving my primary email address simply isn’t going to happen. Whenever possible, I register with a throwaway email address (eg. bspamfree.org), a trivial password (eg. “qwerty123″), and bogus information. I then get whatever I came to get from the website and abandon the account forever. If a website refuses throwaway email addresses, I either give up or create a throwaway address courtesy of my ISP. I don’t care that I’m polluting the website’s account database because they don’t care that they’re making access to their services painful. Most of the time they are requiring registration for services that have no fundamental need for it. I am far more likely to be a loyal repeat user of a website that does not demand that I trust them. I am more likely to trust them if they don’t demand that I do so.

    So you are quite right about reason #5. Too much work means I won’t register, but sometimes minimizing the fields is not enough. Don’t make me register for trivial reasons. Don’t make me redo the form several times. And don’t ask me to trust you because you’ve done nothing to earn that trust at the time you are asking for it. Give me as much as you can without registration and we’ll see how the relationship goes. If I find that I love your website and I discover reasons to trust you more, maybe you can entice me to register later.

    I’ve got one more reason for not wanting to register. Is your website in US or UK jurisdiction? If so, you take a major hit. Whether I trust you or not is one thing, but under no circumstances can any thinking person trust your government.

  13. Mana

    Apr 6th, 2012

    Reasons 5 and 6 are usually why I don’t fill in a form. Especially on those sites where I’m already logged on… it never fails… they ask for info that they already have….

  14. Ferdy

    Apr 10th, 2012

    It’s too bad that we still have this friction, because OpenID and oAuth come pretty close to removing it alltogether. It’s usually only one or two clicks and it removes the need for remembering yet another password.

    The problem remaining in that area is indeed that the websites ask for too much permission. So I’d like to join a website via Facebook, next I get a laundry list of things it can do to my Facebook account. I wish there was a way to selectively approve permissions. In this case I’d be comfortable sharing my basic personal information, but I would decline the permission to post on my wall. I can’t do that currently, it’s all or nothing, which often means nothing.

  15. Sav

    Apr 10th, 2012

    nice article! thanks for the useful tips!

  16. Greg

    Apr 10th, 2012

    Great advice on those sort of things that you sometimes miss. Thanks

  17. Omari Celestine

    Apr 10th, 2012

    These are definitely some great tips and I really need to do some research into optimization my web services towards gaining the trust of my users.

  18. Catherine

    Apr 11th, 2012

    great article!

  19. JR

    Apr 11th, 2012

    Nice article. I love the visual examples of how to do it right.

  20. billycripe

    Apr 11th, 2012

    You missed a HUGE reason many folks don’t sign up: the information is probably available elsewhere without registration requirements.

    That means that websites aren’t trading as much on *uniqueness* of content but rather on *convenience*. Therefore, if you registration form or sign up process is a big barrier to getting at the content, the convenience goes down and users look elsewhere.

    Social networking means it is easier than ever before to find even difficult to locate content. File sharing means that, if it is not outright theft, that whitepaper or video or analyst report is probably out there, freely and anonymously downloadable.

    Just my $.02

  21. LiberatID

    Apr 13th, 2012

    Succinct and real. Great article. I strongly believe that sites should put off asking for information they do not need for ‘opening’ an account. Everything else is need based.
    We have recently changed our sign-up page drastically – it previously used to ask for first name, last name, salutation, checkbox for age, and another checkbox for terms and conditions. We have cut it down to username and email – I am further thinking of not asking for email confirmation as well. Just username and email. That should be sufficient to open an account and start using the site.

  22. Johnny Ratcliffe

    Apr 14th, 2012

    It is amazing how many companies haven’t taken these simple points on board isn’t it.

    The Facebook/Twitter app thing is getting ridiculous now, can see a backlash soon

  23. Daniel

    Apr 16th, 2012

    Useful article, not many new facts, but good too keep in people’s mind.

  24. Martin Wittmann

    Apr 27th, 2012

    Thanks for your amazing article!

    Funny, in April I wrote “5 Questions That Keep Users From Signing Up” on my blog.

    Good to see that other people care about these things too.

    All the best, Martin

  25. Jean

    Apr 27th, 2012

    Also, I don’t want to remember yet another set of credentials for a site I might only use a couple of times.

  26. Jean Naimard

    Apr 27th, 2012

    Worse are websites who ask for an e-mail address, but reject plussed emails (like jean.naimard+uxmov@gmail.xxx) to tag addresses in order to find out who sells their collected addresses.

    • yellow

      Aug 1st, 2014

      Technically hyphen and others aren’t allowed in email in the old specs, but it is implemented in every email system. Very occasionally I’ll get caught by validation that stuck to the spec and disallowed “valid” characters.

  27. Joshua Canfield

    Apr 27th, 2012

    Thanks for the good read. I have to agree with “7. Asking for their credit card number for a free trial”. I always stay clear of Websites that are offering a Trial that requires a Credit Card Number. Especially those Web Apps that offer 45-Day Trials and still require a Credit Card Number. This list should be bookmarked by all Web Developers who are actively involved in any medium or large scaled project. It’s really important to look at the UI/UX of your Website. It’s functionality is more than important.

  28. Gary Etterhat

    Apr 28th, 2012

    I usually embed an invisible Flash player and then play some nice soothing music.

  29. Gort

    Jul 19th, 2012

    All of these are great reasons, but I feel that #6 is the most widely abused one of all. A lot of people naturally feel like empty fields need to be filled in (perhaps this is residual cultural feelings left over from clipboards and “officialness” of paper forms we used to fill out mostly only for really important things). This is partially why many people will give the information if they are asked for it, because the UI is telling them they should. Because of this, I feel that asking for information you don’t need is irresponsible and abusive towards people.

    While certainly not the worst culprit, even this website is guilty – when I posted this comment I was forced to put in an email address. I understand that this is used to prevent spammers, but it doesn’t change the fact that I don’t feel that this website needs my email address. So I put in a fake one.

  30. Kumar

    Sep 13th, 2012

    I understand that getting spammed and getting others spammed are the two main reasons people dont sign up normally. Actually these pretty cool reasons, as the number of emails and newsletters we receive everyday are crossing 100 and even 1000. At the same time, some websites have great sign up forms that makes people sign up, such as Time Clock, Basecamp, etc.

  31. Electric Forklift

    Oct 12th, 2012

    Thank you for the insight, I’ll take them into consideration when I create or don’t create my form

  32. Sam

    Oct 28th, 2012

    I think giving out your information is dangerous period. Kiss your privacy goodbye once you sign up on a website. I cannot believe how people let themselves get sucked into giving away their privacy. That is all the internet is is a way to get your information. Plain and simple. Technology plays on our psyche to get what they want. Why do they need our information to being with? What’s in it for them besides money. In research I have read that they want our information to dig up dirt on everyone. Some people have nothing to hide, but there are some that feel they should have their privacy rights. People are addicted to the internet. Kids are the one’s who get sucked in and give out all their informaton including their families.
    I feel crime has gone up drastically since the internet was discovered.
    By the way, I don’t have the internet. A person I know was kind enough to let me commnent here using their computer.
    I still use the telephone, the United States Postal Service and if I want to talk to someone I go to their home and visit them in person. It is much more meaningful to talk to a person face to face then through a machine. Yes, big business and others play on our vulnerabilities. Internet is not necessary. Now shut off your internet and go hug your loved ones that are more loving than the internet.

  33. Sveta

    Dec 28th, 2012

    One very important issue in online forms is the “required” phone number fields. It’s a pet peeve of many deaf and hard of hearing people as well as of any users who don’t like to be forced to be contacted via phone number only. Phone numbers should be optional only – especially in the 21st century when more people are using alternative modes like texting, emailing, instant messaging, etc.

    I wrote an article about this issue on: http://audio-accessibility.com/news/2012/12/accessible-forms-for-deaf-people/

    • oxygen

      Feb 13th, 2013

      All deaf people have learned to write 000000000 in the phone number field if it is required. And they are less than 1% of internet users. And they might have a phone for texting (or browsing).

      • Sveta

        Mar 19th, 2013

        Oxygen – please read my blog post in details – I mention that even many HEARING people find this required phone number field a pet peeve, too. And people with disabilities make much more than 1% of internet users, by the way.

      • yellow

        Aug 1st, 2014

        Until they implement the other suggestions on this site and validate the phone number to be US only with dashes in the correct spots

  34. Brendan Malloy

    Sep 15th, 2013

    I hate signups too! I hate them so much I created a site for Trello users that has no registration. I don’t want people’s emails to provide a simple service. I think too many sites ask for it these days before then even need it. It is like a brick and mortar store asking for your full name before they let you through the door. I think people should be anonymous when possible. My app, reportfortrello.com, deletes all data after 4 hours. I have not had one complaint from my customers about deleting their info. I hope more services take my approach and if they don’t I’ll keep making sites that do.

  35. Faisal

    Oct 9th, 2013

    I am afraid it is not that simple. Users, especially the geeky ones check the rating and popularity of the website. If it’s new – nothing will convince them to join.

  36. Tom Warda

    Dec 23rd, 2013

    We excel at creating the trust, credibility and rapport required for nameless and faceless people to do business with other people. We are accumulating outrageous numbers that confirm that this is the key to internet business….great discussion!

  37. Manish Rai

    Mar 4th, 2014

    Every point in this article is a bitter truth but the great deal is to find the solution which seems impossible today, god save people who crave for traffic.

  38. Jim

    Mar 20th, 2014

    I wonder if, a couple of years on, the overall aesthetic professionalism and branding calm concerns a user might have.

  39. yellow

    Aug 1st, 2014

    “4. Feeling insecure with personal information handling”

    Our site is secured with lock icons! They go across your screen and do all the busy hard work of making things locked so you can be sure it’s safe and secure.

    This is bad practice.

    It breaks all the efforts of browsers to inform people of the status of their connection. Security experts find it hard to train users using UX when sales and design keep putting official looking lock icons and other non-integrated visual miss-cues all over the place.

    Do users look at their browser status or the icons you’ve trained them to search the screen for?

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