We’ve looked at how the new HTML5 form tags improve the process of building web forms, but you don’t need to wait for better browser support to improve your forms today. Luke Wroblewski, web developer and co-founder of Bagcheck (which was recently acquired by Twitter), has a great post over at Smashing Magazine detailing various ways of improving the ubiquitous login form.
Pulling examples from Gowalla, which helpfully provides your user id photo, Quora, which immediately offers to create an account if your e-mail isn’t found, and his own Bagcheck, which is experimenting with a drop down list of usernames as you type, Wroblewski’s post is an excellent tour of some of the best UX login forms on the web.
There is one important qualification for these forms — the assumption is that your site has public, searchable profile pages, otherwise exposing user data (like username or photo) would be a privacy no-no. Of course it’s worth considering that, while exposing usernames in the login forms might not actually violate anyone’s privacy (any more than a public profile already does), that doesn’t mean your users won’t perceive it as a privacy violation.
For those worried about security the same caveat applies. If your site already has public profile pages then you’re not exposing any data that can’t be found with a simple Google search. Provided your backend security protocols are built correctly, making a more usable login form won’t make your site any less secure.