Following up The New Registration and Login Grammars, I thought it would be interesting to look at how signup forms have changed over the years.
Excite!. Goes so far as to ask you your race, and then a further question about whether you are of Hispanic or Latino descent. Oh, and then your household income! Talk about building barriers to signup!
Yahoo!. IIRC Yahoo! also used to ask for your profession and related stuff, but simplified things a bit somewhere along the line. They’re still adding big barriers though by asking a lot of unnecessary questions. As for these security questions, they’re of dubious value. When exactly did Yahoo! remove questions on professions etc? I’m not sure, but I’ve set the date at 2001 as it’s the kind of time people started doing that.
37Signals’ TadaList. Seemed pretty simple at the time, just asking for the basics. But still, characteristic of its time, it goes for email and password confirmations. Optimising for an unlikely error condition isn’t a great idea. Also, you have to tick to agree to terms and conditions. I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect you could argue that signing up is implicity agreeing to terms and conditions, so the slight increase in complexity isn’t justified for simple websites. (On a minimal form, the extra checkbox could raise the number of controls by 50%.)
Posterous. Signup form? We don’t need no stinkin’ signup form. Posterous uses one of the new registration and login grammars – Email-Driven Interaction – to obviate registration, at least until the user really wants to. Even then, it’s dead simple.
For clarification, all these screenshots were taken today. The years are reflective of the site’s origins (not necessarily their year of creation, in the case of Yahoo!) and the kinds of forms that were around at the time. I dig all of the sites here and their inclusion is testament to their role as representatives of an era. I just wish some of them would modernise their signup forms a bit :).