Default options should handle the most common, most trustworthy case.

Gmail got this right when they stopped asking for confirmation for users’ actions and started allowing people to undo them instead. For example, most of the time, I am sure I want to trash that email, so asking for confirmation does nothing for me; my default action becomes to auto-confirm, since it’s what I do most often. Ben Bryant has a good post on how trust worked for Wikipedia. And to quote Neil Davidson on avoiding the real problems: “don’t create rules for the many based on the sins of the few”.

When I built the prototype for my cell phone bill analysis tool, I had an item pretty high up on my list of core features to have user accounts. When I got to it, I titled my head to the side and let out a nice long “Hehhhnh?”. I realized that it really didn’t make much sense. If people wanted to come and try the service, having to register is a pain. I can’t even list off the apps – free or paid – that I wanted to try out once but stopped when I had to register. Seriously, it’s really, really annoying.

So I asked myself: “Why would people want to register?” The only answer I could come up with was that they might want to save their bill data and come back at a later date. I figured most people wouldn’t be doing that to start, so user accounts dropped priority, and I instead implemented persistent temporary sessions.

Apparently, Jason Kester feels the same way:

Our stated goal with Twiddla is to get the hell out of your way so that you can get some work done. We’ve taken that idea so far that most of our users will never see a login screen of any description. Some might not ever know they’ve used Twiddla at all, since we keep our Logo hidden away in the corner where it’s not in your way.

That’s a great example of putting your users first. Registering for a service is a hassle for the user, and that’s something that’s true whether there’s a good reason for registration or not. Maybe capturing a user’s information helps you market to them down the line. Maybe capturing a user’s information makes it easier for you to personalize the user’s experience. It doesn’t matter though. It’s not your choice. It’s the user’s choice.

And respecting a user’s choice is a great way to get them to trust you with their money.