When we set out to take a close look at online registration practices, we already knew that these features were, shall we say, “problem children” for most Website teams.

How did we know this? Because we’ve been fielding questions about best and worst registration practices for at least ten years.

Most of the queries revolved around which questions vendors should — and shouldn’t — ask on registration forms.

Others circled around how many steps (or how much time) a registration process should require — and whether centralized “one-size-fits-all” registration forms were better than letting individual operating groups or marketing and sales managers run amok.

At the end of the day, every Web team we talked to was laser-focused on the same issue: how to win the online registration race.

So we set out to find the answers

This, and the constant levels of angst about online registration abandon rates, led us to take a look at the types of questions companies ask on their online registration forms.

To start the process, we cataloged the 105 types of registration questions asked on registration forms provided on Websites across the IT industry.

Then we coded each one based on whether it is necessary, reasonable, acceptable, intrusive, or inappropriate to the topic and objective (that was an eye opener).

Finally, we added a third category: “NOYB” – which means the question is not only none of the vendor’s business — it’s practically guaranteed to make visitors lie like a rug.

And what did we learn when we added all of the questions up?


We learned that too many companies are so myopically focused on extracting information from visitors that they are totally blind to the impact of the information they are seeking. When all of the questions are tallied up:

  • Only a fourth (24%) are necessary, reasonable or acceptable;
  • Almost half (47%) are either intrusive or inappropriate;
  • The appropriateness of another 7% will slide around depending on the form and registration objective; and
  • 22% are either silly or none of the vendor’s business.

And here’s the real eye opener.

When all of the questions are tallied up and mapped to your site’s most common registration forms, only 25 (yes 25) questions make the good practice cut.

Put another way, to have a world-class registration strategy you don’t need many questions in your quiver. What you need to know is when to use certain questions — when to avoid them — and why.

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Category: Case Study & Downloadable Report

Class: Best and Worst Practices

Websites Profiled: Websites across the IT industry (most of whom shall remain nameless)

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