About half way through the development of Subpug, we decided to scrap the sign-up and sign-in forms. We were trying to create a lightweight service, and the idea of signing up felt wrong; too intrusive for an app that doesn’t store personal or sensitive information.
One of the main reasons why users need to identify themselves to online services (with a username and password) is so that the application can locate their specific data on the server. To work around this requirement, we decided to store all user information in the browser. Although there are some edge cases where this doesn’t work (for example, shared computers), we felt the trade-off was worth it for the ‘frictionless’ use of the app.
Subpug users don’t even need to give us their email addresses - just click through to the app and your “account” is automatically created inside your web browser. If you need to view your data (subscriptions) on another device (like an iPad), Subpug can synchronise your subscriptions back to the server and email you a link that provides access to those subscriptions on another device.
But if you don’t need to synchronize your subscriptions across devices, Subpug is entirely anonymous - we don’t know who you are or what you subscribe to. It’s almost like using a native software package on your computer. In an age where every website seems to be asking for more information, we thought it was refreshing to create an app that tries to know as little about you as possible.
The benefit for us, of course, is that it’s incredibly easy for people to try Subpug. For most web applications, a standard conversion rate - the percentage of people who sign up for a trial after visiting the website - is around 10%. Subpug only soft launched a few days ago, but we’re already seeing a conversion rate of 47%.
That’s massive. About half of the people who visit the website actually go on to use the service. Of course, we don’t yet have enough data to know how many stick around, but a 5x improvement on conversion rates should tempt others to try a similar lightweight sign-up system. If browser-based storage isn’t right for an app you’re creating, check out Mozilla’s excellent new lightweight BrowserId technology, which we’re also considering.