Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Simple Usability Improvement: Named Logins

You always get "Forgot password?" links. But I never really have that problem. I wrote my own system to save, generate and manage my passwords, because the only way to have a secure password is to have a random password, and remembering large numbers of small random sequences is a very wasteful way to use your brain. I never forget my passwords, because I never even know what they are in the first place.

What I do forget is my usernames. I forget them all the time. Most sites, if you lose your password, require you to furnish your username or e-mail address to get it back. But I have many e-mail addresses, and I forget which site has which e-mail address too.

The user-level solution is indexing both username and password by URL. My system, a command-line Ruby gem, does that. 1password, a cheap OS X app, does the same thing.

The site-level solution: named login URLs. For instance:

Or in a Rails style:

You make that URL a bookmarklet on your site just by wrapping it around a graphic which the user can drag to their bookmarks bar. Then, if they forget their password, you don't have to ask them who they are, because you already know that much, even when they don't.


  1. I think what you're trying to address is exactly why most sites went away from using named logins at all to email addresses, or email address or username. That's what I used on, and hope to follow Hacker News in the future by adopting clickpass to make it even easier for people to contribute to our issues and debates.

  2. Hey man,

    As tempting as it is to wind you up further becoz it is entertaining to see someone flip a noodle... I won't

    I've clearly offended you. Although unintentionally. With all sincerity forgive me I did not mean to

  3. This is why I like openid. If sites support it...


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