Lee Munroe offers an alternative to the “sign-up first” approach.
Imagine if you walked up to a clothes store you had never been in before and you were only able to see the outside. In the window, instead of clothes they have icons with brief descriptions of the clothes. Then if you want to enter to look at the clothes or try them on the shop asks you for your personal details. A photo of yourself. Where you live. Then they ask you for 5 of your friend’s emails so you can invite them to the shop (that you still haven’t entered and don’t know if it’s any good yet). You eventually get in and realize it’s not what you wanted. Afterwards you start receiving letters from them in the mail every day until you ask them to stop.
He describes Luke Wroblewski’s idea of gradual engagement, an alternative to that ordeal, as something like this: Hey, here’s a product we made, give it a try. If you like it, you should sign up so you get even more value.
Today I again return to Aarron Walter’s Designing for Emotion (2011, A List Apart). On pages 22-28, Walter discusses contrast. On page 22, he identifies two ways in which we perceive contrast:
Visual contrast: difference in shape, color, form, etc.
Cognitive contrast: difference in experiences or memories
Today I’ll only further explore visual contrast. Walter (p. 23) provides a sign-up screen from Tumblr as an example of effective visual contrast. I provide a slightly different sign-up screen than Walter does, one I captured from Tumblr just minutes ago:
Tumblr’s sign-up screen is an excellent example of effective visual contrast.
Walter says that by eliminating extraneous content, the site simply introduces the product and the less distracted user is more likely to sign up with Tumblr (pp. 23-24):
The high visual contrast in negative space against the large, central form makes it easy to understand what this site is about and what action Tumblr expects.
Page simplicity also helps potential customers to perform a basic cost-benefit analysis, a regular activity that our brains engage in after contrast scanning. The short time needed to fill out the form is a low cost to pay for the potentially large benefit of the service, making conversion highly likely.