License and Registration, Please

Bruin Robinson - 06.29.2010

When I got a new Blackberry a year or so ago, I was excited to see an application on it called Password Keeper, which allowed me to keep all of my website registration information in one convenient place – protected by a password, natch. Whether it’s a banking website, a magazine subscription, or just a social networking site like Facebook, it seems as though every website these days allows users to register for a username and password.

In fact, according to a study by Microsoft, the average user has 25 online accounts and 6.5 passwords. (I guess I’m getting off light with only 20 entries in my Password Keeper.) So the question for most non-profits is – Should you allow users to register for online accounts, and what can you do with it? Here are some general guidelines:

Offer them something of benefit

Users will not want to create a profile on your site unless they can get something out of it. Some options to consider:

  • Access to non-public areas on the site – think Board Members, Memberships, Volunteers, etc.
  • The ability to update their personal information
  • Online Directories
  • Giving Histories – or a step further, interactive giving histories, where they can pay off a pledge online, or change their payment information for a recurring gift Whatever you offer them, make sure the benefits they will receive from registering are advertised.

Allow them to customize their username

No one likes to be saddled with a username they didn’t create. If you let users create their own, it will be easier to remember and they’ll be more likely to return often. One of the sites I’m subscribed to forced a username on me and I don’t visit there unless absolutely necessary.

Don’t require login to interact

There are still some users that will not want to have to register just to donate or register for an event. Make sure that the “man off the street” can still access the most important areas of your site without having to create a profile.

Make sure their password is secure

This may seem obvious, but most organizations forget to make it secure from themselves. Make sure your donors know you don’t have access to view their password (since many internet users use the same password for multiple sites.) Consider limiting yourselves to only be able to reset their password to something generic that they can change later. And remember, when thinking of passwords, always consider your underwear!

How are you managing accounts at your website? Leave a comment and let's have a discussion!


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