GenuineVC David Beisel's Perspective on Digital Change

June 16, 2006

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.

  • http://sampa.com Marcelo Calbucci

    I’m not sure if what you really want is AJAX. You just want a rich DHTML registration. AJAX has been used as a loose term for everything DHTML, but that is not a correct usage of the term.The only thing that AJAX would be really useful for a registration is to verify if a username/email has already been registered. Pretty much everything else can be done without simple and neat DHTML.

  • http://www.michaelslevy.com Michael

    Dear David
    What about this : http://www.rememberthemilk.com ?
    Thanks for your interesting insights.

  • http://www.michaelslevy.com Michael

    :) Try this link, works better : http://www.rememberthemilk.com/signup/

  • http://www.cellphones.ca branden

    At first glance this form is intimidating but when you start adding your information it uses a dhtml/ajax wizard of sorts to help you through the process. nice idea but still some room for improvement maybe.

    http://www.gojobby.com/Jobby/Create/

  • http://www.echosign.com Jason M. Lemkin

    This is a great point.

    The minimal DHTML we use on our registration page: https://www.echosign.com/public/register has had a huge impact in minimizing user problems & errors, and thus minimizing friction. If you play with it you’ll see as you type in each box hints & suggestions comes up. It’s pretty lightweight compared to other uses on our site, but the impact has been material as the piece suggests.

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