Username, user ID, login name? Why consistency matters

Username, user ID, login name? Why consistency matters

A simple screen element that goes unnoticed by many companies when creating website interactions can cause headaches and confusion for site visitors every time they try to interact. The culprit? The login language.

Getting a site visitor to register and create an account is a nice-to-have for some retailers or services that are working to forge relationships. But for banks, utility companies with online payment systems, firms that manage employee benefits, and B to B sites, it’s required. So why is it so hard?

Setting the scene for confusion

Say you are an average site user, and you decide to set up an account on a website you plan to use more than once. You select the button that reads REGISTER. You are then asked to supply your name and email address, and to create a password. Maybe you answer a few other questions, too. Hit SUBMIT and bingo, you have an account.

Time passes. Now it’s a week, or a month, or three months later. You return, and select SIGN IN. You are asked to enter your User ID and your password.

Wait. What?

Unless all of your visitors are ardent users of 1Password or another password manager software, there’s a good chance they have no idea what their User ID is. After a few failed guesses, your site visitor may be frustrated or worse, locked out.

Lead your visitor with specific prompts

The goal should be to make it as clear and easy as possible for your returning visitor to sign in. If the User ID or username the site wants is a member number, say so on the screen and tell them where to go to find their member number – “look on your member card,” or “look on your bill.” If it’s an email address, it’s as simple as placing “Enter your email address” above the form field. Don’t ask for one thing during the registration process, and then something else when a user returns.

Strive for consistent labeling everywhere

Depending on which page you visit, or where you are in a process, you may be asked to “sign in,” “log in,” or “logon” – all on the same site. Choose one way of referring to the process of secure entry, and apply it everywhere.

It’s a small thing. But small things make a big difference in making your customers love you -- or not.

CRC Marketing Solutions is a Minneapolis, Minnesota, digital agency that creates and executes ideas for building business.