Many sites that do require user to create an account compound the error by failing to stipulate the password criteria upfront. It’s incredibly frustrating to enter your password twice, only to be told that it needs six letters, two numbers, one hieroglyph, etc.

So to avoid annoying your customers, here are five simple tips for helping customers choose a password and also making sure they can easily remember it when they return…

1. Let them know the criteria

As mentioned, it’s surprising how may sites expect their customers to automatically guess the password criteria when setting up an account.

If you’ve taken the time to put rules in place, why wouldn’t you inform people of those rules? If you need eight letters and one number, make that clear next to the password field.

2. Don’t confuse the customer with pop ups

This isn’t something I’ve come across that often, but it’s worth flagging up this example of poor user experience from Woolworths so it can be avoided at all costs.

Australian grocery retailer Woolworths flags up error messages for all the fields in the checkout process the moment you land on the page – so before you’ve even had a chance to enter anything in the text fields.

As this video shows, the instructions for the password criteria appear as a pop-up after the customer has filled in the first text field.

This is confusing, as it pops up even if the user has met the password criteria (at least six characters and one number) so appears to be telling the customer that they have entered it incorrectly.

3. Let people know where they’re going wrong

As a stickler for security, I have several different usernames and passwords that I use in various combinations across my online accounts.

This means my chances of being hacked are reduced, but also means that I often forget which password I used for a particular site.

When this occurs, it is useful for sites to be specific about which field is incorrect.

So for example, if the username doesn’t exist then consider displaying an error message that lets the user know you don’t have an account under that name.

The same is true of the password – if you recognise the account, then you could let the user know that the password doesn’t match the username.

There are obviously security considerations with this (please feel free to point them out in the comments), but assuming your site already confirms usernames on the password reset form then there shouldn’t really problem in doing it on the login page.

In fact, MailChimp used this tactic and it helped contribute to a 66% decrease in login failures and a 42% decrease in password resets.

4. Don’t confuse people with too many options

In a recent post looking at the pros and cons of offering Facebook logins in ecommerce, one of the problems I highlighted was the additional confusion that social logins can inflict on users.

Remembering your username and password for an ecommerce site you use infrequently is difficult enough, so adding social logins can just cause more confusion.

Instead of just asking the user to remember their logins details, you’re requiring them to remember which of three login options they used in the first place.

Of course one of the benefits of social buttons is that they make it easier for customers to login as they have a single password for numerous accounts, but unless social is central to your business model or Facebook login is used by a large proportion of your customers, it might be a good idea to unclutter your registration page by removing the social buttons.

5. Make the password reminder simple

There are always occasions when users simply cannot remember their login details and have to go through the process of resetting it.

While this is inevitably going to lead to some frustration, there are still steps that sites can do to make it less painful.

In this example from MailChimp, it uses simple error messages next to each field so users can easily get a reminder or reset either part of their login.