The Definitive Guide to Single Sign-On

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts outlining best practices for integrating social technologies on your site.

Imagine walking into a bar and getting asked to flash your ID to prove your age.  That’s expected, right?  Now, what if you walked into a different room of the bar and were asked to do the same thing?  Not only would this experience be undesirable, it might cause you to leave the bar or rethink returning in the future.  The same concept exists on the web.  If your brand operates multiple websites within an ecosystem, you should not need to force people to identify themselves again at every turn.

Single sign-on makes it possible to offer a truly frictionless experience across your sites.  It enables a person to register or log in on one site and navigate to all other sites in an ecosystem without needing to create a separate account or log in again.

Planning for Success:

Offer Instant Personalization When Users Navigate to New Sites

As users traverse your online ecosystem, lay out a welcome mat and offer a friendly message that greets them by name.  This facilitates trust and brand affinity among your users, and improves retention and time on site.

Don’t Exclude Users Based on Login Preferences

Some single sign-on solutions have been architected to work exclusively with traditional username/password accounts on a site.  Others only work when a user has registered via a social identity.  You shouldn’t need to choose between the two.  Single sign-on between your websites should just work, regardless of whether a user has registered with a social identity or the traditional way.

Enable Secure Addition and Rapid Deployment of New Sites

Single sign-on technology needs to scale with your organization.  Your single sign-on solution should allow you to easily enable (or whitelist) selected sites within your ecosystem for added security, and rapidly onboard new sites for single sign-on with the addition of just a few lines of JavaScript code.

Case Study:

Postmedia Network, which owns several of the largest daily newspapers in Canada, has enabled single sign-on across each of its sites, including NationalPost.com, VancouverSun.com and Canada.com.  Integrating single sign-on has made it easy for online readers to navigate across each of the sites while maintaining their account history and subscription preferences.

Single Sign-On for Postmedia Network

To learn more about single sign-on as well as other social and identity management technologies, check out our Definitive Guide to User Management.