Making Account Creation Compulsory?


I'm hoping to start and finish a simple application (simple, so in 3 months?)

To declare the opening of a startup, and because I would like to incorporate communication between my application's users, I have considered asking them to create an account so that everything they have regarding the app won't just stay in their devices but also online (among other possible benefits).

Is it okay to require them to do so? Or will I end up sinking my ship before it even sails?

Online Account

asked Feb 15 '13 at 19:13
Yasker Yasker
47 points

4 Answers


Anything which increases the friction of getting started with the application, such as registration, will reduce the number of users you get. Most app developers consider it a "best practice" to eliminate all forms of friction, hoping to get users to register later, if and when they are addicted to the application and its functionality. In doing so they hope to get the largest number of users.

There are some notable exceptions to this rule; Twitter and Facebook both require registration to do anything; those applications were so compelling that large numbers of users were happy to jump through the hoops.

The only way you can find out for sure is to test both approaches and see what percentage of testers become regular users under each scenario.

answered Feb 16 '13 at 13:07
Joel Spolsky
13,472 points
  • Can you suggest a way for me to allow my users who won't want to set up an account (hence encounter one form of friction) to store the data they'll use? I am aiming for my startup to be one that provides help also as a place to store simple data... – Yasker Yasker 6 years ago


An alternative to creating an account is linking to an account - i.e. Facebook, Google, OpenId or Twitter. This will still allow to to store personalized data for each user and it will lowers the "sign-up"-barrier significantly.

I'd be very cautious to launch a site or app these days that don't offer any of the alternatives just mentioned, given that you want an account system at all.

answered Feb 16 '13 at 18:16
138 points
  • There are some downsides to requiring users to sign-in with a Facebook or similar account. Users can't use the service anonymously, and now the users' activity on your app and whatever other service is tied together. Of course, it still is super-extra convenient for you and the users :) – Kevin 6 years ago
  • True. Best thing for the user is if there also is an option to create a local account of course. More work for the developers though :p – Nilzor 6 years ago
  • Completely agree with this. It's (practically speaking) as close as you'll get to the perfect solution in this scenario. – Jeremiah Prummer 6 years ago
  • Thank you, everyone -- so, the best approach this 'answer' suggests is to have the availability to sign-in using their fb or gmail or yahoo (like stackexchange?) as well as an account local to the web app? (just confirming) – Yasker Yasker 6 years ago
  • That is correct – Nilzor 6 years ago


It is not unusual for an application to store information online including personal information especially if its used to communicate between users (in fact most users will assume it does, if they think about it at all)

A few things to think about:

  • Determine what information will be stored, where and for what length of time. Making sure you have a clear data retention policy and explain what data is shared between device and your server in your privacy policy will help relay some fears.
  • Linked to the first one, make sure you have a way to remove the data if the customer asks and be sure you know where there data is.
  • Think through what happens if they don't have access to the internet and wish to use the application, will certain functions still work?
answered Feb 15 '13 at 23:42
Tim Nash
1,107 points
  • Also, be aware of data protection laws, cookie laws, etc, especially in the EU, which are quite strict. – Steve Jones 6 years ago
  • Also the less data you are handling generally the less things can go wrong, less issues you will have. So even if you don't limit the usage – Tim Nash 6 years ago
  • For the bullets you listed, 1-i have an idea of the minimum personal data i will need, and 2-yes definitely delete data if asked to; 3-then i'd have to make a system app if i want to let my users use the data offline? --@SteveJones, i'll try to look into that -- i don't intend to force some "remember me" in the login window, though.. – Yasker Yasker 6 years ago


There a many approaches developers can use to persist data without requiring the creation of an account. But if you want the data to travel across devices (be it different browsers, platforms, etc) creating an account makes sense.

Which strategy you use depends on your offering, target market, etc.

answered Feb 16 '13 at 00:37
Jim Galley
9,952 points

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