Username or Email Address for Web App Log In?

28 Jan 2014

Heads Up Before August 2018 Saber was known as "BugMuncher", so you'll see the name BugMuncher instead of Saber throughout these older posts. You can read more about the name change here - BugMuncher rebrands to Saber.

Today I went to log into my Survey Monkey Account, and I was presented with something I hate to see on log in forms:

Survey Monkey Log In Screen

I’m not talking about the log in with Google and Facebook options (although I’m not a fan of those either) - I speak of the dreaded ‘username’ field.

While Survey Monkey is an awesome service, their insistence on using usernames to log in really bothers me. Why? Because I have no idea what my username might be.

The problem with usernames is that when you register, someone else may have already joined with your chosen moniker, forcing you to either pick another one, or stick some numbers at the end. Either way, when you try to log in again a few weeks down the line, it’s probably going to take a few attempts before you get your username correct.

This is why I like being able to log in with my email address. Email addresses are inherently unique, I know what my email address is, and no one else has it. It took me three attempts to get the correct username for Survey Money this morning, had I been able to use my email address I’d have been in first time.

The worst part is I did try logging in to Survey Monkey with my email address and correct password, but it didn’t work. If you are going to have usernames, at least allow people to log in with their email address as well.

Usernames don’t really serve much purpose for a tool like Survey Monkey (or BugMuncher for that matter). Usernames are only really needed for social media apps and discussion boards, where posts need to be publicly attributed to a user, without displaying their email address.

So unless you’re running some kind of social media / discussion service, my advice would be to forget about usernames all together, and just stick with good old email address and password for authentication. But if you do feel the need to have usernames, at least let people log in with either their username or email address.

I don’t mean to pick on Survey Monkey, it’s a great tool, and one I highly recommend. There are plenty of other offenders out there (I’m looking at you, MailChimp - what is it with simeon themed services and usernames?), Survey Monkey just reminded me of this annoyance, prompting this blog post.

- Matt Bearman


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