Oh, the fateful sign-up screen. Such a catch-22. In order to better retain users, you must have a sign-up screen. But this single screen, if not done right, can actually be a trigger for app abandonment. Unfortunately it is quite common for many app-user relationships to end on the sign-up screen.

So how do you tackle this tricky yet important screen? First, it is absolutely critical that you continually monitor and optimize your sign-up screen because it is often a main part of your app’s first impression on potential users. Unlocking why your sign-up page is converting (or not converting) prospects into users can also help you determine important KPI’s such as user engagement and retention. Below we’ll highlight the main reasons why users abandon the sign-up process, and some best practices for converting them into actual users.


When users are prompted to sign up within the first second of their first experience with your app, it is important to remember that they have not had a chance yet to explore or assess your product for themselves. This is like asking someone to marry you before the first date! You typically won’t get many takers in this situation. Early sign-up prompts are a major no-no when it comes to onboarding correctly and sealing a positive first impression. Registered users is an important KPI, right? So demonstrate value to your users prior to asking them to sign up. It’s as simple as that.


Unless the need to access an app is super strong from the get-go, users often ditch signing up for an app if it seems like an app is requesting too much information. For example, sign-up forms that have more than 5 required criteria, or that span across multiple page views can appear to be too long for some users and may turn them off. Keep in mind that a seemingly “short” form on paper may appear to be quite a long one on a mobile device. The more “work” required for a user to sign up, the less appealing an app becomes. Therefore, make sure your sign-up forms require only the most necessary information. For apps that benefit from additional information, we recommend letting users opt-in for providing these details. Users can volunteer additional information through their settings function or an expanded profile view that can be accessed post initial signup.

Source: developer.tizen.org
Source: developer.tizen.org


Many users are wary of providing their personal information to online resources, and there’s a good reason for this! Being vigilant in protecting one’s identity and security is absolutely necessary in today’s digital world, especially considering how much information users store on their smartphones. Therefore, if an app seems to be too intrusive, or if it’s not clear why an app would need such personal information, it could quickly scare away users.

It is important for apps to be transparent on why they are asking for such information. For example, if a date of birth is requested, explain how it is used or make it optional to the sign up process. Apps that are financial or banking oriented need to not only be transparent regarding aspects of their sign-up form but also convey robust security capabilities to their users. One way they can do this by clearly noting the security measures and levels built into their service. For example, the personal finance app Mint promotes that its service uses “triple layer security…128-bit SSL encryption”, provides icons of security partners, and leverages a pin as an additional security layer on its mobile app. This is a simple yet good way to strengthen your users’ confidence in your app. On the other hand, if your app is basic (think a flashlight app) then it probably should not even require its users to sign up in the first place. A sign-up screen for a flashlight app, would instantly raise a red flag in a user’s mind, don’t ya think?

Source: Mint.com
Source: Mint.com


Another, potentially surprising, reason that a user may be deterred from signing up to your service is due to social sign-up. Basically, some users could be worried that some of their personal information may be made public via Facebook or Twitter through linking their media profiles to an app. For example, how many of us had apps post to our Facebook timeline without our knowing? This could cause embarrassment for some users- “Doh! I didn’t want my boss to know I achieved level 50 of CandyCrush during work hours!”

Another example might be that a user does not want to sign up for a diet app if it requires them to login through a social media account. Letting the world know that they are on a diet may be a bit sensitive of a topic for many users. Keep this in mind and add reassurances, safeguards, or sharing specifications in anticipation of this potential concern. At the end of the day, make sure to not confine your users to social sign-up and always offer the option of signing up with their own email.

Source: ittisa.com
Source: ittisa.com


Sometimes users give up on the sign-up screen because setting up a profile password requires more effort than their willing to dish out. “Is that an ‘L’ or and ‘I’?”- we’ve all had to ask for another Captcha password at some point because the text was simply indecipherable. Even navigating to one’s email to conduct a “double opt in” might seem lengthy to some users, especially when it comes to their expectations of an optimal mobile experience. Some studies have suggested that users may bail out of a sign-up process just because they are asked to verify their password one too many times (this bailing can also be caused by the length of the form, as mentioned earlier). Basically, people want to get where they want to go with the least amount of effort possible. This is such an undeniable human characteristic, that the field of cognitive psychology has even named a theory after it entitled the “Principle of Least Effort.”

Despite this reality, we understand the want of some apps for an extra layer of reassurance to confirm legitimate users. There are actually some great alternatives to Captcha that can ultimately strengthen the user experience and lead to a higher number of registered users. For example, Sweet Captcha verifies humans through a simple to understand, lighthearted game.

When it comes to email confirmation- make sure that the navigation from app to email is facilitated and friction-less. The easier a user can navigate to their email and return to their app experience, the better chances you have of the user fully signing up and staying.

Source: boagworld.com
Source: boagworld.com


Basically, your sign-up screen functions as the gateway to your app’s experience and a determinant of user retention. It is absolutely critical to monitor and optimize this screen (and every aspect of your app for that matter). This can be done via UX app analytics like Appsee. By leveraging visual analysis tools like Appsee’s user recordings, you can see exactly why a new user might drop out of your sign-up screen and then optimize that screen effectively. You could also view touch heatmaps to better understand which parts of your sign-up page are attracting aggregate users’ attention and which are not. Powerful tools like these can pick up on critical elements of the UX that cannot be detected by basic analytics. You could be losing users right under your nose- that is why it is so important to utilize a tool that clearly depicts your user behavior.

Ultimately, it’s important to make your sign-up screen is simple, friendly and unobtrusive. It should also be extremely clear how signing up can improve the user’s experience. So, before you ask users to sign up for your app, make sure you’ve effectively conveyed the value proposition. Follow these tips and you’ll be sure to optimize your retention and conversion rates, and in the end deliver a stellar user experience.



*This article originally appeared on Product Maven’s blog.