One of the best ways to get someone to do something is to make it as easy as possible. That goes for your website visitors too. There are many reasons you might want visitors to register or create an account on your site – to shop, to join a community, or to login and use your web-based service. But honestly, people don’t always want to take the time to fill out the form or create a new username and password to keep track of. There are many times that I’ve abandoned shopping carts that forced me to create a whole account profile before I could check out, and I doubt I’m the only one.
You might want to consider accepting OpenID for users to log in. OpenID is a technology that lets users login with a single ID and password for multiple websites. If you have a login for AOL, Blogger, Flickr, LiveJournal, Technorati, Yahoo, or WordPress, then you already have an OpenID. Over 25,000 sites currently accept OpenID as a way to register or log in.
There is an OpenID Foundation that “was formed to assist the open source model by providing a legal entity to be the steward for the community by providing needed infrastructure and generally helping to promote and support expanded adoption of OpenID.” From their website:
This Open Source technology lets you use your existing presence on the web as a form of identity. It was designed to solve real-world problems around single sign-on, without unnecessary complexity. Just like you can use an email address as a form of identity, OpenID lets you use a web address (URL) that you control to sign in on other sites. And just like email addresses, you can have more than one, for work, or at home, or for any other use. But unlike email, the sites you access can’t spam you or access your data unless you give them permission.
An OpenID is a URL. An example OpenID URL would be “bob.myopenid.com”’, and when asked to sign in to an OpenID-enabled site I would type “”bob.myopenid.com” into the sign in box.
So how can you accept OpenID on your own website?
Since OpenID is an open source technology and nobody owns it, there are many providers out there that can give individuals an ID. Some of the more well known providers include JanRain, VeriSign, and ClaimID. Janrain, provider of myOpenID, recently announced RPX – a hosted tool for businesses to easily accept OpenID users on their websites, or to create branded OpenIDs for their own customers.
By implementing the simple RPX API, you’ll instantly enable single-sign-on from hundreds of providers including the largest ones like AOL, Facebook, Google, and Yahoo!
Add a snippet of code to your website, and your interface is complete. RPX manages the list of available providers and helps the user sign-in, with a simple and intuitive interface. The RPX managed interface remembers the user, so that when they return it’s just a single click to log in.
Laura Leites, Assistant Editor, Smallbiztechnology.com