Dan Saltman: Stop doing this crap on your startups website
Nov 10, 2013

Stop doing this crap on your startups website

1: One click unsubscribe

Many sites butcher this process. You should have a link to 1-click unsubscribe at both the top and bottom of all emails you send. Don’t settle for “log in to unsubscribe” - Yes, its legal for transactional emails but its still stupid. You (the webmaster) will be the only one hurt when your user just marks you as spam instead because he doesn’t remember his password. If you want to ensure email deliver-ability for those who want your emails, there is zero benefit in hiding or making the unsubscribe difficult.


2: Do not reinvent forgotten password recovery.

The process should be:

  1. I forget my password and click the “Forgot password” link on your site and enter my email. Dont make people hunt for the link. Always show it. Dont make me try a fake password first.
  2. As you go to send the email in the next step, state “We have sent the recovery steps to your email address ending with @gmail.com” (optional, but cuts down a lot on support requests)
  3. You send me a email asking me to confirm I want to reset my password with a link for me to click
  4. I click said link and I am taken to your website with a form where I can enter a new password (once).
  5. Important step here: Once I type the new password and click “OK” you automatically log me in. I don’t have to go log back in again.


3: Simplify your signup form

Do you know what is not needed on your signup form? Making people type their email and password twice. Your signup form should have one field for a username, password and a email address. You should have a “as you go” AJAX checker that verifies the input data and make sure it looks correct before you unlock the submit button.


4: Logouts hurt you more than they hurt me

Quite possibly the most annoying thing you can do to the user is to log them out after a few hours of inactivity. You would be absolutely shocked how many sites do this. You are not paypal. You are not Bank of America. You do not need to keep logging me out if I don’t touch your site in 12 hours. Your cookie expiration should be some insanely long number. Sure, having them re-login has some security benefits- But I can tell you that in my experience, I have seen massive dropoffs in bounce rate when a user comes to your site after a while and is asked to login. Most will have forgotten the chosen username or password and will just bounce out. Basically, unless you are running something mission critical, just dont expire cookies. If someone has owned that users local terminal, they are already owned anyways


5: Send a (correct) welcome email

Short but important one. When you get to scale, you would be surprised at how much this helps for random support requests. When a user registers at your site, send a email to the address they registered with and say something along the lines of:

Hey Accountname! Thanks for registering on http://site.com ( Site world )

Your account is Accountname and the IP address this was created from was on 11/10/2013 12:35 ETA. The link to your profile is here : http://site.com/profile/accountname

If you did not create this account, you can deactivate it by clicking here

You can of course also include some marketing stuff in there but make sure you also include the 1 click unsubscribe links as well. There are a few reasons that its important to send this email with the intended functionality shown, but It should be pretty self evident.


6: Nobody likes the mobile version of your website

People must know this, but the proliferation of these mobile versions continues on. I imagine that somewhere out there, there is some rockstar sales person who is taking their mobile-optimization company into going public from all the sales they drive.

Anyways, the point of this is that in almost all uses, mobile site versions are god-awful. At first there is that annoying “We have a mobile version! Continue using old site?” [ OK / CANCEL ]  - Its like Russian roulette knowing which option will let you stay on the page. Of course you choose wrong and end up on a totally different page then you were, with different content and substantially less options. Listen, if I can play minecraft on my phone, I can handle looking at your designed for Netscape website.


7: Stop the sneaky redirects

You know when you cant press the back button after going to a website? That is not a happy accident. Most times, that is a sneaky webmaster attempting to game the Google search results. What? Yep. It is without dispute that Google tracks which link you click when you search for something. So if you search for “panda” and then click the first result but its not what you wanted and then click the second result, Google knows that. It says to itself “This guy looked at the first result and then kept looking” - It also knows the last link you clicked was most likely the most relevant one, since you never returned to the search results. When a webmaster makes it so that you cannot return to the search results, they directly give themselves that ‘hidden vote’ into Google, since you obviously cannot return to click another result. Every time I see that, I report it to Google.


That is it for now. Solve the above issues on your site and you will already be miles above other sites in usability. Kind of amazing how some of the biggest sites out there who have entire departments of UX people still don’t have these issues taken care of.

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