AJAX Shouldn’t Just Wow, But Also Register

Much has been written over the past year or so about AJAX-enhanced web pages, and I personally have been wow’ed by many startups which have leveraged this set of technologies to create whiz-bang features for many of their services. It seems that every day TechCrunch is profiling another Web 2.0 startup that has some candy implementation that makes their web app easier to use, more pleasing to look at, and most importantly, richer functionally without page reloading.

But the one area where I haven’t seen much use of AJAX is on user registration pages. And this fact surprises me, especially given two issues:

1. The number of web services which require this user workflow.
2. The importance of this workflow in a user’s perception of the service and the conversion from a surfer to an actual user.

Registration pages often ask users to fill-in a number of fields, many of which are optional or conditional based on answers to previous fields. It seems natural to me for a reg page to include AJAX-enabled functionality to simplify and reduce the intimidation-factor for the page. Anything to reduce friction in this process is highly beneficial. I would suspect that a well-designed page enhanced with AJAX would not only increase conversion rates, but also allow for a richer set of data to be collected from the user.

I am sure that more than a few startups (or even larger corps) have experimented here… but I just haven’t seen many. I would be interested in hearing about any examples of demonstrated successes (perhaps even with metrics?). Regardless, I believe there is a lot headroom for startups to harness AJAX on both registration and landing pages to more seamlessly pull users through this often tedious yet important aspect of many web service offerings.

David Beisel

David Beisel is a co-founder and Partner at NextView Ventures. He has been focused on early stage Internet startups his entire career, both as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. As an investor in the digital media space, David was most recently a Vice President at Venrock and previously a Principal at Masthead Venture Partners. Prior to becoming a venture capitalist, David co-founded Sombasa Media, an e-mail marketing company best known for its flagship product BargainDog. Sombasa was successfully acquired by About.com where David served as Vice President of Marketing. David holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business and an AB in Economics, magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Duke University. He also founded and leads the Boston Innovators Group, an organization which holds quarterly entrepreneur events drawing a thousand attendees.

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