Fab Axes Sign-Up Requirement For Its Design Shop, Admits User Experience Sucked (But Did Help It Get 7M Users)

Big news and a big admission for online designer shop Fab.com as it continues to scale up and make itself more user-friendly: For the first time, the site is letting people browse its online shop without having to log in, putting the online shop in line with the company’s mobile app experience. The registration requirement has helped the company pick up 7 million registered users,  “but it was not a great user experience,” Jason Goldberg, Fab’s CEO and founder, wrote today in a blog post. The company turned off the registration requirement today in the U.S., and Europe will come in 10 days.

“Great user experiences get out of the way and help people get shit done. Our mobile experience has not required login — that was the right way to do it,” he writes. From now, an account will only be required for those who want to add an item to a favorites list, or to buy something.

It’s a mixed message in the post. On the one hand, half of its signups had come from social sharing, and getting users to register meant that they were able to track other things and target them better for future purchases.

But at the same time, requiring users to sign up to view products halted that experience for many users. It said that the need to do so was “shooting us in the foot” and “a huge source of complaints on Facebook and Twitter.”

Goldberg notes that the site currently has more than 10,000 products — more than Ikea, he says. But while he doesn’t note how sales have been stacking up for that catalogue, there seems to be an implication here that they could be a lot better. “Why are we hiding them?!?!” he asks in the post. “We should be making it as easy as possible for people to shop it! Again, just get out of the way.”

The company earlier this summer raised $105 million in funding at a reported $700 million valuation, bringing the total raised to $156 million. It has also expanded internationally both on its own brand and through acquisition, with one of the most recent being Llustre in the UK.

But it has also been fending off a lot of competition. Goldberg’s name-check for Ikea positions it as one rival; others include Gilt, One Kings Lane, and Aha Life.

In August it emerged also that Fab was suing TouchOfModern for trademark infringement.

As that competition continues to heat up, Fab is moving away from trying to control the experience and make it as wide open as possible to attract as many visitors as possible.

Even with a registration requirement, the site has continued to grow. It reported 4.5 million signed-up members in May this year, compared to the 7 million it has today. But without a sign-up requirement it might have had an even better opportunity to take advantage of its growing popularity.

Goldberg’s post is below:


At @Fab we believe that the best user experience gets out of the way.

For 15 months now, visitors to the Fab.com website have had to login in order to view the products on our website. This helped us gain 7 million registered members, but it was not a great user experience. Great user experiences get out of the way and help people get shit done. Our mobile experience has not required login — that was the right way to do it.

As we get 50% of our signups from social sharing, having this signup requirement to view products was really frustrating to users and shooting us in the foot. There’s not much worse than getting excited about a product your friend shared on Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter, then clicking through to view and buy the product and getting a huge login blocker. Lame. This was a huge source of complaints on Facebook and Twitter.

There are now nearly 10,000 products on Fab every single day. Why are we hiding them?!?! Duh! We want nothing more than for people to come to Fab and discover and find everyday amazing design finds that make them go Wow! (Btw. Ikea boasts having 9500 products on their website.)  We’re building the world’s greatest design store. We should be making it as easy as possible for people to shop it! Again, just get out of the way.

So, today we’re putting our customers first, and we’re fixing this.

We’ve always said that Fab will win in the long term by putting the best interest of our customers first. It’s not about us. Today we’re doing one of those walk-the-talk things.

Here is what the Fab.com homepage looks like now. You can browse the entire website and participate in the Fab social commerce experience without any login required. An account is only needed if you want to add a product to your favorites or buy something.

The Fab Live Feed – Logged Out.

Example Product Page – Logged Out.

The signup to browse requirement is now removed from Fab.com in the U.S. We’ll do the same in Europe in 10 days.

Smile, you’re designed to – without registering.