Our Blog

July 17, 2015 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

Usability Don’t: User self-identification in the login process

Users on the web don’t like to self-identify who they are (it’s hard enough in real life). Student, parent, donor, member – I could be any or all of these things at any given time.

When trying to access an account, deciding “who am I?” to your business makes the login process cumbersome.

Why? Because I don’t remember and I am not sure where to look it up.

Example: Rackspace

To login to Rackspace, I have to know which of five customer types I am.

Three appear to be about website management. Two about email. Five different account types. Five services. Five potential login combinations.

Why don't I remember which type of customer I am?

  • I don’t login all that often, so I don’t recall the name of the service we use.
  • The names of the services are quite similar. Portal and Control Panel are user interchangeably by hosting companies. Cloud and Cloud Sites are quite similar sounding (as are Webmail Login and Email Login).

So how do I go about logging in to the right service? I'm not sure…

Might as well try the first one on the list.

Attempt 1: MyRackspace Portal

“MyRackspace Portal” – that sounds personalized enough. It’s “MY” portal after all. I click to the MyRackspace Portal login screen.

I have no idea what my Rackspace Account number is and I'm not really sure where I would find it. Which makes me realize that last time I didn’t have my account number, so this was probably the wrong choice.

And why do I even need my account number? Shouldn’t my username and password be enough?

Moving back to the list…

Wait – Cloud vs. Cloud Sites?

Instead of trying to figure out the difference, I'll keep going in order.

Attempt 2: Cloud Control Panel

My login for the Cloud Control Panel works! For .7 seconds I’m relieved, then the page loads.

Great. I don’t even use this service. There should be a list of servers/sites but I “don’t have any servers in Dallas”. Clearly in the wrong spot.

Back button, Back button, Login, Choose “Cloud Sites Control Panel”.

Attempt 3: Cloud Sites Control Panel

My last choice when it comes to site management (I think).

Finally, my login works and I see a screen I recognize!

User frustration grows each time they fail

I failed twice. Not because I forgot my username or password – but because I had to choose “who” I was to Rackspace…and I just didn’t know.

Users often don’t understand which category contains the information they want. It’s often difficult to decide and becomes frustrating when multiple attempts are required to get what you want.

Make your site intelligent enough so users don’t have to choose where they “fit”

If I have several account types with your business, I don’t want to logout and login to access another. I recommend Rackspace implement a single login for all account types I could have.

As a rule of thumb for websites, don't make your user think. Be helpful! Personalized chat functions on B2B websites are real-time ways to engage users and answer their questions on the spot.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. I am headed over to RackSpace support to open a trouble ticket so I can share this blog with them. I will do it today so I remember which service I have with them!

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