Should users be able to try the app for free with or without registration/signup?

I often see the advice that saas apps should let the user try the app without registration/signup because it reduces friction for trying it out.

But I'm not convinced that this is the right strategy for the following reasons:

  • If someone isn't willing to sign up, they're pain isn't high and they're extremely unlikely to turn into a paying customer
  • If someone isn't willing to sign up, you probably didn't do a good enough job with your messaging and positioning
  • In terms of technical implementation, free trial with signup is a pretty easy to do, whereas free try without signup is a significant amount of work (at least to me)
  • Getting an email signup is incredibly useful for converting the user to a paid customer

To clarify, these arguments are for saas apps that are charging money. If the app is free then I think the argument for letting users try the app without signup/registration is stronger.

What do you think? Do you have experience to share?


  1. 3

    Recently read about the Signup strategy to provide the demo login credentials and let them try your product along with a no-free plan.

    The benefit of having this strategy-

    1. No spam emails
    2. Only genuine people sign up.
    3. You only get paid customers.
  2. 3

    Hi Steven,

    I work for a company that sells a complex Saas product to large companies for $5000 to $15000 /yr.

    They make people sign up then a sales person does a 20 - 30 minute web meeting with them before they get their hands on a demo version.

    I think your instinct is correct. Make people sign up.

    If your target audience is non technical and/or the product is complex to understand maybe do a guided tour before they can use the demo. A lot of non technical users prefer a walk through and explanation.

    1. 1

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. Requiring a demo is an even higher level of user commitment which I think makes sense for high-priced and/or complex saas.

  3. 2

    I work with a bunch of early-stage SaaS founders on accelerating revenue growth and I will ALWAYS recommend requiring that a new user sign up for access. I agree with all the below comments that it ensures you get serious inquiries, but it also allows you to deliver more value through onboarding.

    There are very few tools that someone tries and immediately just "gets." The ability to share additional information (and not only within the app) helps you in a few key ways:

    • learn what info are they interested in
    • learn what info prompts them to take action
    • share guidance to get them to be successful -- faster

    I think the debate over whether to require immediate payment or credit card info really depends on the app and its users, but I think it should always be gated by email.

    1. 1

      Great bullet points. Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective!

  4. 2

    I have implemented a demo login button for my freemium B2C web app. It was pretty easy to implement and has made testing so much easier since I could always just click on that instead of logging in.

    The reasoning behind it was that sometimes people want to have a look at it before signing up and giving away their email address. I am one of those people, and therefore decided to implement it. That and that I thought that it would be easier than doing a video or something.

    Still to early to tell if it has made a difference or not, and if it was a more complex application or B2B then I might not have followed that route at all

    1. 1

      If it's easy to implement, then it's sounds like it's at least worth a try. Would love to hear what you verdict is on this experiment after more time.

  5. 2

    Your points make sense. For me, I run an email marketing tool and we only want high quality users to use the tool, because spammers who try to game the system really hurt our reputation, deliverability, and our ability to serve other paying customers.

    As of this time, we still require credit card for a free trial. This might change in the future as we have more resources available.

    1. 2

      Yeah, definitely makes sense for an email marketing service.

      Running an ESP sounds like one of the hardest types of web services to operate. Did you listen to the IH podcast about EmailOctopus? It was a good one.


      1. 1

        Yes I'm starting to think that running an ESP is one of the hardest and most tedious type of SaaS businesses 😭

        Thanks for the link. I'll check it out!

Trending on Indie Hackers
How do you decide what idea to work on? 80 comments Rant about the link building industry 18 comments Any indie hackers creating tools for the nonprofit sector? 4 comments Small creators were preferred over big brands for Black Friday & Cyber Monday 4 comments Job Board For Space Industry - Cofounders Needed 4 comments We decided to go wild on the upcoming product trailer. Thoughts? 2 comments