Last month David Heinemeier Hansson posted a micropost on the 37signals blog asking if it’s time to kill off the “Remember me” checkbox on login forms and simply assume that the user wants the app to remember them the next time they load it, automatically logging them in.
I think this falls in the same category as Jakob Nielsen’s recent suggestion to drop password masking. Yes, it would make life easier in many cases, but it would also pose problems. The consensus seems to be that the problems outweigh the benefits. Forgetting to log out and thus compromising your data is worse than having to check a “Remember me” box.
But this isn’t the only solution to the problem. There is another way you can do this that leans closer to the automatic remembering, but doesn’t go quite as far: check the “Remember me” box by default. This is exactly what Google is doing:
<img class=”alignnone” title=”Google Reader login box” src=”/images/0910/google_reader_login.png” alt="” width=”321” height=”221” />
And you know, I think it works. Most of us probably check that remember box all the time anyway and having the form automatically help you out saves you having to take your hands off your keyboard and mouse over that checkbox. It’s a small thing, but it makes the login form more usable and faster to process.