Site users will be more likely to create an account if it’s easy and they understand the benefits. Keep the account creation process simple with a single “create account” button and limited distractions (like other calls-to-action). Succinctly outline the benefits of setting up an account, emphasizing what they can do and how it can help them.
Users can create an account directly on your website. This template is intended for agencies who have a self-hosted authentication system and need a design that’s simple, usable, and mobile-friendly.
When to consider something else
Your agency uses a third-party authentication system. If you’re leveraging a shared service, follow the user experience guidelines from that service. For example, login.gov recommends placing a “sign in” link in the header of your website that takes users through the entire “sign in” or “create an account” experience on the login.gov site.
Help users focus on the task. Remove extraneous content. A “create account” page works best when it’s simple, focused, and to-the-point.
Use specific field labels. If you’re asking for a username, say username. If it’s an email, say email address. Don’t make the user guess which one you mean.
Keep the form short. Only ask for what’s necessary to create an account. Eliminate optional fields whenever possible, and keep the information pertinent to the account creation process (like username, email, password, and security questions). If you need to ask for something outside this common account creation information, explain why it’s needed.
Convey clear password requirements. Clearly indicate any password requirements. If possible, validate these requirements as users type, and use a password meter to show password strength.
Allow users to toggle password visibility. This helps ensure users are entering passwords correctly while maintaining privacy when needed.
Enable copy and paste. Many users rely on password generators because they provide secure passwords and phrases they don’t have to memorize. Forcing manual entry is a barrier to usability and can cause mistakes.
Use consistent, accurate language. Use the phrase “create account” instead of “sign up,” which can be more easily confused with “sign in.” It’s also more accurate, since users aren’t necessarily “signing up” for anything when accessing a government site or service.
Allow users to switch between creating an account and signing in. Users should be able to easily find where to sign in from the create account page, and vice versa. This also applies to the global header of the site, where users should have direct access to either the sign-in or create an account page.
Include required legal agreements. Work with your agency’s information security officer and general counsel to determine how to handle legal copy placement regarding terms and conditions. Use a checkbox to affirm that your users accept terms and conditions. Make the terms and conditions easy to find without distracting from the primary purpose of creating an account.
NIST Special Publication 800-63-3, Digital Identity Guidelines, provides technical requirements for federal agencies implementing digital identity services. The guidelines cover identity proofing and authentication of users (such as employees, contractors, or private individuals) interacting with government IT systems over open networks.