Designing for social traction: Turn a user into a passionate customer *before* making them sign up for your service

Being able to post to Posterous without an account was something we designed for from day one, even before the name “Posterous” existed. I didn’t want there to be hurdles like registration forms and email confirmations for new users.


Emailing to Posterous without an account is actually great for us in a couple different ways. First is the typical “try before you buy” scenario. It makes more sense for a user to *use* the service and see how great it is, before we ask them to sign up. But obviously, most of our users do eventually sign up to get access to all our advanced features.


But sign-up free posting is also great for group sites. When you setup a group Posterous site, you add contributors by adding their email address in site settings. Those people can now email with no account. We do see these people engage with Posterous in the long term with no account, especially users who aren’t tech savvy.

Using Posterous without an account isn’t just some gimmick we did with email, it’s something we believe in through and through. Registrations forms and other hurdles slow down adoption. We want to prove to you how valuable our service is *before* we ask you to sign up. That’s why we allow this flow not just through email, but through our Twitter posting API and even our iPhone application.


  1. Great presentation. It’s got my mind churning about how to design the "flow" better for signups and user engagement. The immediate engagement model is interesting. I wonder what the final % difference is when AB testing those two models.

  2. I was very impressed with this strategy for Posterous sign-up – that you don’t have to sign-up – fairly brilliant, and probably why I’m on Posterous!

  3. interesting. i do like the idea of instant use. just really clever thinking. must apply that and make the signup more simple for my video tools.

  4. Very smart strategy and thanks for articulating it so clearly. It helps get people in the door to try before they "buy". We have used it for the venture association for our college and it has been great. Will def keep this strategy in mind for future projects.

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