Facebook is adding more complexity to its user registration and sign-in process. Let’s hope it does it the right way.
Facebook is going to announce some sort of support for OpenID, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington reports. For the uninitiated, OpenID is a single sign-in system that tech blowhards love to gush about but normal people have never heard of. The main idea is that you’ll be able to sign up for (and log in to) a Facebook account using another company’s credentials, like a Google or MySpace account.
This strikes us as unnecessary. Signing up for Facebook is so easy and effortless that more than 200 million people have happily done so. So it seems hard to imagine that Facebook is missing out on anything by not supporting OpenID. And meanwhile, it seems Facebook is potentially adding more clutter to Facebook Connect, its own sign-in product that could actually make some money someday.
But let’s assume Facebook has done some thinking about this and has decided it’s a good idea to make its service more complicated. Then it needs to make sure it’s the easiest, most seamless experience on earth.
The only reason to submit your users to a single sign-in system is if it’s something that’ll make their lives easier, while at the same time, something they’ll never have to think about. Let’s hope Facebook understands this. (And preferably never mentions the term “OpenID,” which normal people should never have to learn.)
Our experience with OpenID is limited (thankfully) and has been more trouble than it’s worth. Maybe we’re missing the deep, feel-good “open” spirit behind OpenID. But we’d happily sign up for another account (probably with the same password) once for every service we join than add an extra, poorly designed step to signing in every time.
Here’s the OpenID login screen on TwitterFeed, a free service we use to publish our news stories on our Twitter feeds. If Facebook’s looks anything like this, they are adding unnecessary clutter — and making a mistake.