Design of registration forms

December 8, 2008


Recently, I got an invite to Flixster, which apparently is a movie review sharing website. I have been a member of Revish, which is a site for sharing book reviews, since it began. It’s very nice, in its design and its functionality and everything. A pleasure to use.

Flixster sent the first invite, and I ignored it. Then, it send another one. Not wanting to be annoyed with multiple invites, I accepted it. Like most websites with a social networking vein, it then asked me for my email details. I’m usually fine with this, as I can see if any of my contacts are part of the service already so I can add them. I almost never send invites to people if they are not already part of whatever service it is.

Flixster did show me the people who were already members, and had their names checked so I could add them. I clicked OK, but then I scrolled down and noticed that all of my contacts were also checked, and would get an invite from me. Every other site I’ve ever joined has had this as an “opt-in” feature, where you have to check those contacts manually.

All of them. Facebook. MySpace (!). Revish. Delicious. Twitter. Crowdvine. You name it.

So. I sent two useless emails to a couple hundred contacts, to whom I would normally never send useless emails. Many of them are very busy people who get lots of emails. I hate useless email, and I try to be careful with the emails that I send in order to maintain a proper relationship with people that I can only reach through email.

In light of this, there is an obvious lesson for designers of registration forms. If you have a social part of your registration process, DO NOT EVER make it an opt-out feature to automatically send invites to people that are not already members. EVER.

Because of this, Flixster will be on a black list for me, as a matter of principle and advocacy for good design and user experience. I have a passion for these things, and do not want to support sites that have such a flagrant disregard for them. Struggle with them is okay. Expected. But flagrant disregard, to an extent that is worse than anyone else in your field is not acceptable.

Do not use it. Use Facebook. Use anything else. Just not Flixster. If you happened to be on my contact list, and got an email before I clicked Stop, please accept my apologies.