File Under: Web Basics

Yahoo Users Befuddled by OpenID

Yahoo OpenID FAILYahoo just released results of an OpenID usability study. Though there’s a silver lining, the news is mostly not good. Although we’re big fans of OpenID, it’s definitely not yet ready for mainstream adoption.

The study observed nine female Yahoo users in their thirties who considered themselves of medium-to-high internet savvy. The participants were told they could log in with their Yahoo ID at a third-party site. In many cases, the users tried to log in using the site’s main login, rather than the OpenID login. Users don’t understand multiple ways to log in, at least not without some education.

Unfortunately, the problems continue even when the user knows about OpenID. The module which lists popular providers, including Yahoo, confused users. There is no spot for a password, which seems strange to even advanced users (though this is becoming more popular with financial sites for security). Then comes Yahoo’s OpenID process, which is confusing for users that haven’t already added OpenID to their Yahoo account.

They’re pretty sobering results. The Developer Network also summarized the study and offers suggestions to third-party sites.

So, where’s that silver lining? The users saw the utility of OpenID:

  • “It’s convenient. You don’t have to give your whole life history to a site.”
  • “It’s easier because you don’t have to create a new ID and password.”
  • It eliminates the need for e-mail verification.

Even better, the study’s very existence shows that Yahoo is thinking about it. For OpenID to succeed on a grand scale, it’s going to take big players on the web making it understandable to the masses.

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