Today I have read an article on a Swiss blog which really made me think. The author’s company is offering various courses on research on the internet and also on using Web 2.0 services. He mentions that many participants of those courses have problems registering with Web 2.0 services and setting them up properly because the registration process was too difficult for them.
What’s the big deal about registering with any service? Well, that has been my first thought. I – and probably most readers as well – sign up to sites almost daily. No problem: user name, password, every now and then OpenID, some very basic profile data and you can start using a new website for your own benefit.
So why should there be any problems? According to the author because people are stillstuck in Web 1.0. They didn’t need to register with any sites before and are not used to it. This is raising two questions:
Is there a gap between internet users?
The question deserves an affirmative answer, I think. Ask family members, friends, and colleagues if they have heard about or even use RSS, blogs, Twitter, and Digg. I guess most will negate the question. Sometimes we seem to forget that most people still don’t spend a lot of time on the internet and therefore don’t know much about new trends and services. Recently I have participated in a survey about technology and internet. One question was how many hours I spent on the internet each week; the highest number I could choose was 20 hours. Yes, just 20 hours.
Can OpenID profit from it?
I am not sure. Of course, just a single password was required anymore and most profile data could be stored centrally at the OpenID provider. But wouldn’t users be even more confused if the relying party was forwarding them to the IdP and from there back to the relying party?
While I think that signing in to websites with an OpenID is pretty straight forward already, the process should be even more simpler and as unobtrusive as possible. Most people expect a quick registration process without any hassles. The involvement of a second website (=Idp) will put many off, I guess. So the IdP should be almost invisible to them. I don’t know if that’s possible but it should be considered if OpenID was to be adopted by a large number of users.