A Flexible ID Field Helps Forgetful Users Log In

by on 02/09/12 at 3:43 pm

Everyone forgets things from time to time. But forgetting a username on a website can keep users locked out of their account. It’s like forgetting your keys and getting locked out of your house. Getting locked out is a frustrating experience in life and online as well.

Luckily, there’s a way you can help users who forget their usernames log in to their account. Most users remember their email address more than the usernames they use across different websites. This is because most users check their email regularly and are more familiar with their email address. However, some sites don’t allow users to log in with their email, but rather username only. This can force forgetful users to create a new account all over again. Users are not only frustrated that they forgot their username, but now they have to do extra work. In addition to the frustration, forcing forgetful users to create a new account can populate your database with ghost accounts. This isn’t good for you or the user.

A flexible identification field would allow users to enter either their email address or username to log in. This not only helps users who forget their username, but also users who forget which email address they used to sign up for your site. A user might forget the email address they used, but remember the username. The flexible ID field adapts to the user and what they remember. Users have the freedom to choose to log in with their username or email. If one fails, they can always try the other option.

Adding a flexible ID field on your login form has many benefits. A username and email address are both unique to a user. It makes sense to allow them to choose what they want to use to log in if they forget one or the other. Limiting the user to only one login ID runs the risk of users forgetting it and getting locked out of their account. Getting locked out isn’t fun for anyone. But with a flexible ID field, you can prevent this from happening to your users. Giving users the help they need when they make errors is important part of interface design. But preventing users from making those errors in the first place is a more important part of interface design that designers should strive for.

8 Responses to “A Flexible ID Field Helps Forgetful Users Log In”

  1. Dave

    Feb 9th, 2012

    One other thing, if I fill in my email address and click “Forgot”, please don’t ask me to retype my email address!

  2. CPOThemes

    Feb 15th, 2012

    Definitely a more flexible system that would allow users to remember their login credentials way more often– but it may also pose higher security risks, since you’re essentially giving users the ability to input more data fields.

    Any thoughts on this, Anthony?

    • anthony

      Feb 21st, 2012

      It’s more of a convenience for users than a security risk. Weak passwords are the number one security risk for logins, whether you’re asking users for their username and email or not.

  3. Jeff

    Feb 16th, 2012

    So what kind of input type do you go with, it’d have to be “text”, but it’d be nice to swap that with “email” for mobile users… as per: http://uxmovement.com/forms/input-types-give-users-the-right-keyboard-on-mobile-forms/

  4. Tim from IntuitionHQ

    Feb 19th, 2012

    A flexible identification field that allow users to enter either their email address or username to log in is very user friendly. It does definitely help to make your site more usable for most users. Especially since I know myself how easy it is to get lost of all your different accounts.

  5. David Padilla

    Mar 1st, 2012

    Another emerging trend for simplifying form fields is to clarify password fields. Meaning, when a user is typing their password, the field will not switch the characters into ‘asterisks.’ Example, for those of you who have an iPhone, when you’re typing your password, the characters you type will display for about 0.5 seconds before switching to an asterisk. This makes it very easy to see what characters you are typing, thus reducing the chance of entering the wrong password.

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