December 10, 2008

Five Ways OpenID Can Be Embraced

By Mona Nomura of Pixel Bits (FriendFeed/Twitter)

Attempting to learn OpenID for the upteenth time, I ended right where I started: Confused. So I reached out to the community for help and received tremendous feedback that helped me better understand what OpenID is about. People left thoughtful, thorough comments on how to actually use OpenID and someone even left step by step directions. That made me realize: OpenID is still irrelevant for the average user.

However, the discussions held on FriendFeed and my personal blog opened an avenue to great (rational) exchanges of ideas, which got me thinking about how OpenID can be relevant to us.

  • Verifying needs to be simpler
    Technicalities aside, verifying, signing up, claiming, or whatever the "correct" term is, one thing is clear: The steps need to be simpler. Right now, the process is a nightmare requiring many steps. Users should be able to go to OpenID provider sites, and with one step - two at the most, be able to verify.
  • Email providers need to get involved
    With password storage managers the norm, URL log-ons should not be a burden - in theory. And that is the problem: in theory. Realistically, non-technical users are intimidated by using something other than their usernames, e-mails, or handles (nicknames) to log on. Since usernames and handles, without the URL, would be difficult to use as an OpenID log-on, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo et al joining the movement makes perfect sense.
  • Partner with consumer sites
    One word: incentive. Imagine if OpenID were to be accepted by Amazon, eBay, PayPal and financial institutions. Why wouldn't everyone use OpenID?
  • Update the site and Wiki with clearer instructions. I did not know that being logged into a provider site omits the verification process and log-on using OpenID without verification is possible - did you? That information is not readily available on the OpenID site, why? Or why isn't that on their Wiki? Almost every person with Internet access can go in an edit a Wiki. Will someone go in an update OpenID's Wiki page, please?
  • Create a Need
    Either I am missing something or it is still unclear why OpenID is so important - and most of it is due to all the technical jargon that is on the site. OpenID / OAuth, privacy, owning information, decentralizing, centralizing, user-centric, SSL, profiling, identity, and other stuff (for a lack of a better term) - it would be helpful if it were re-written in English anyone can understand.
If OpenID were to implement at least three of the above five, even my mother would be able to understand and use OpenID. Are you a part of the movement? If not, what would make you use OpenID? Or do you even care about OpenID?

Read more by Mona Nomura at Pixel Bits