bad practice

InformIT – Your Online Guide to Tech Reference has a bad practice I haven’t seen in a long […]

InformIT – Your Online Guide to Tech Reference has a bad practice I haven’t seen in a long time— required registration to read all their content.

What makes it such a sin is the poor job of setting expectations & providing feedback they do. Take a look at the front page, pick an article that appears interesting, click and whammo– a brick wall of a registration screen demanding your email. No explanation of why you are there and what it has to do with the link you just clicked… only a list of bullet points on the right about why you should register… the third gives you a hint of why you are there: “Quality IT Content.”

I kept clicking back and reclicking article links, thinking I had made a mistake, or maybe there was some freely available content and member only content, like just about every other website…

At the minimum, they should add a line at the top of the section saying “to read this and all other articles on InformIT, please register. It only takes a second and it’s free”. To set expectations, they might add a line above the articles saying “all articles are available to registered members. Find out more.”

Better yet would be for them to give free access to all articles, and use other ways to harvest emails such as useful newsletters, or interest alerts.

With increased suspicion of spam, to demand an email before proving your value is hubris. And bad business practice.


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  1. 1
    Joshua Kaufman

    Other sites that do this:

    New York Times: Also provides no explaination of why you’re there. Only “why you should register”

    Washington Post: It’s not a registration form but rather a mini survey. Again, no explanation of why you’re there.

    If the big guys are doing it, imagine how many smaller websites do the same thing. Should the bigger websites be providing the example?

  2. 2
    Tom Croucher

    I think this is partly due to the continuing drive to find other sources of revenue for sites. One of the new fads with sites is Amazon style data mining and tracking user trends. Since NYT don’t directly sell anything registration is their only real way to track us in this world of dynamic ip pools (even my dsl is dynamic).

    Of course I can’t completely condemn using registration since so much of what we want to do with meta data needs some way to operate. It just needs to be a little more user friendly.

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