Our intuition is often off. Two releases ago, we considered eliminating the “New user?” and “Forgot your password?” links on the front meebo login page. Before doing so, we decided to track how many users clicked on the links. Good thing we didn’t eliminate them – turns out that 11,000+ meebo users depend upon these links daily!
I’ve seen this over and over again. No matter how many times you encourage users to think of passwords as if they were their ATM PINs, people have too many of them, and too many that they don’t use often enough to remain committed to memory. There are a wealth of password management tools on the market, but those aren’t going to be used by the non-geeks who need them the most.
This is a huge untapped market, but the nature of the problem dictates that it be solved by OS vendors, not shareware vendors. Apple’s made a start of it with the Keychain utility, but the interface is overwhelming to average users. Prediction: The next releases of OS X and Windows will include simple (and hopefully very secure) mass-password-management services.