First-time user experience with website registration (not a good one)

Posting rules: It shouldn't need saying, but... play nice. Please keep your discussions civil. You can disagree, just don't be disagreeable. And, of course, all of the usual stuff like no spamming. Tex adds: I'll be rigorously enforcing this as we go along. We're probably going to be a small community in a little lifeboat, so we can't have members at each others' throats. This is for the sake of the project as a whole. So when you post, pretend you're speaking in person with your very wealthy auntie who has always treated you wonderfully and currently lists you prominently in her will. I won't be tossing anyone out of the forums because we are all in this together (except spammers: immediate membership cancelation), but I'll delete suspect posts right away.

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First-time user experience with website registration (not a good one)

I stumbled across a reference to Lightzone somewhere and had never heard of it before--I rarely do photo editing or touch-up but it seemed interesting, so I decided to try and check it out.


The first annoyance of course is having to register to download.  The intro paragraph however clearly explains why this is necessary--got it.


So I go through the registration process and that succeeds.  Then I go back to the website.  Nothing.  No download block.  Apparently it did not succeed as well as I thought.

So I try to go to the forum to post a question (because I don't read instructions, like 99% of the population), and guess what--can't post a question because I'm not actually registered yet.

Eventually after trying to log in multiple times and digging around I find the note about "we manually approve you as a full participant", AFTER everything appears to succeed, and WITHOUT notification.


Can I just say... as a brand new user, this process was attrocious--I almost gave up a number of times it was so frustrating.  I realize that technically it is not too many hoops to jump through, but compared to a normal download link, I felt like my experience was pretty bad, and I wouldn't be surprised if other new users who are even less technically savvy or less patient might feel the same way.


Here are a few things I think would have helped tremendously with the registration process--just what I can think of off the top of my head to make the process smoother, although I'm sure there are other options as well.


  1. Change the verbiage of the registration email. 

    The registration email says "After setting your password, you will be able to log in". 

    The huge omission here is that "we have to manually approve you first, and then you will be able to eventually log in"--no small detail since attempts to log in after resetting your password for the first time will do nothing.


  2. Possibly add a notification dialog or message on the website when you log in but are not approved yet


  3. Possibly add the full details of the 3-step registration process into the body of the registration email.


  4. Add more emails into the registration process for confirmation/notification of each step.


Here's what I mean by adding more emails... an example flow of the first-time-user registration process

  • User registers on the website
  • Email Sent:  Account details for <NewUser> at LightZone
  • User clicks the link, changes password
  • Email Sent:  Your password has been changed successfully.  If you are a new user, you will be receiving a confirmation email when your account has been approved.  Once your account has been approved you will be allowed to login, download software and participate in our user forums.
  • Admin does a manual approval
  • Email sent: Your account has been approved.  You may now download software and post to our user forums.
    • As a convenience, include download and forum links in the email, or a link to the main webpage


The most straightforward approach--once the user starts the registration process--is that they shouldn't have to do anything else, go anywhere else, or read anything else besides the emails they're receiving, to figure out what they need to do next, or what they're waiting for.  If you have to explain things on your website that people have to read during the registration process, I consider that broken and no longer self-guided.  If the user has to wait an unknown amount of time and check back at regular occurences instead of receiving a notification email, I consider that broken.  If the new user has everything in the emails, then they can read the emails (or re-read the emails) to figure out what's going on.  But if the email says "After setting your password, you will be able to log in"--and then they can't actually log in--that's a lack of clarity that should be easy to correct.



I imagine most people don't bother leaving much useful feedback once they clear the registration process and are able to log in, so these are just some thoughts after finally getting registered.  I'm also sure there are other approaches to smooth this out, but I hope the process can be improved one way or another to benefit future users who are forced to go through the sign-up process.

Thanks for these thoughtful

Thanks for these thoughtful suggestions. Here I will say the following:

  • We are aware that our current process is annoying to some registrants, and that some are having a more difficult time than others.  Also that the process even without problems annoys some people, much more than others---some to the point of fury.
  • We are also aware that most have few if any problems.  As I write this we've got 31,818 registrants.  Based on what we're seeing fewer than 5% are having any real problems.  Of those, probably 80-90% are having a problem at their own end.
  • One thing that I think is not so evident to people is what a shoestring operation this is.  Mainly now it is only me working on the website, as Doug has started a new job, and anyway he said at the beginning he was only in it for 6 months or so---and he wound up staying for 2 full years.  he was the one with the skills.  I came to this because I was the supermoderator of the old Lightcrafts forums.  I actually still have almost zero skills running a website---which is obvious, I think if you consider the way the site currently functions and the way it looks (which is a particular embarrassment to me, personally, given my background...)
  • We made an early decision to pursue a Drupal based website, to give us more real power long term.  But that's a lot more complex than a Tumblr or Wordpress based site.
  • For more sophisticated work I now have to hire a friend periodically---and that comes out of my pocket.  Let's just say I'm not a 1%-er, so that stings and I have limits in that regard.  We have since had a volunteer offer from one other person.
  • The most important work has all been on the program side of things: just getting it out there to the public, some new tweaks, plus the localization project.  Furthermore, I decided last summer that one of the most crucial things that needed to get done---that i could do---was to create our videos, nearly 3 hours worth. Let me just say that it doesn't take 3 hours to create 3 hours worth of videos. 
  • That was time originally allocated to rolling out a new website to coincide with the release of the program to the public---I had already bought the new theme and had already spent money on my friend to assist.  Unfortunately that new theme, although beautiful and robust, and with great built in features, required unbeknownst to me quite a lot of CSS skills that I didn't have.  I thought it would be more like the theme we have now, which allows for a web dummy like myself to do a fair amount skill-less.
  • On top of that was unexpected success:  last year this time we had about 250 members.  We still only had about 1,000 6 months ago.  So, I've been pretty busy just approving members, answering questions, doing the trouble-shooting that was necessary, etc.  Again, less time to improve the site.
  • Then finally, it was a very busy year outside of The LightZone Project for me, with work and yet another all-encompassing project, plus the continued wind-down and resolution of a 10 year old failed business venture. In short, an incredibly busy year.

All the above read like excuses, but truly they are reasons and conscious decisions that sometimes had unforeseen consequences.  The good news is that the coming year, though no less busy for me, at least begins with better awareness of what now needs to happen, and we have a bit of a head-start behind the scenes.  Governance of the project itself is now becoming much more of a crucial issue, because until that is resolved we can't really begin to generate any revenue through potential ads and donations.  Also, we have a great idea of how to get more help through academic partnerships, a process that began this fall.  It has yet to bear fruit, but I am confident it will.

And now with your concrete suggestions in hand, I have something that my hired friend and our volunteer can work on (not as easy as it my seem, unfortunately, to make these simple changes).  So we may be able to make a couple of interim changes.

My new schedule for a new, better functioning website is April, sooner if possible.  Thanks again for your detailed comments.




I know it's no easy feat, but your arguments are also arguments for a donation option. I'd gladly join in to help out you guys once in a while, e.g. for web site setup.

The donations issue relates

The donations issue relates to appropriate governance, since we are not a one person or tandem team of Doug and me.  we are an organization.  I am still trying to get the other key players to deal with this issue!

It's really a Labor of Love isn't?


First I would like to say Thank you for your explanation as to why you are doing things in the manner in which you are doing them. It brings much insight as to the why's & how's to the questions I've had. I totally understand & can relate to just how small your opporation is. As a Freelance Photo-Journalist for a website that is a small run site, making the site look & perform in a smooth opporating manner as well as the posting of update of material is totally a labor of love. My husband knows all to well that labor of love. We do have hopes & dreams for the site. But for now it is what it is. I am a new downloader/user to Lightzone & am looking forward to getting aquainted with the program as well as the forum. I am just so greatful that it has been made available as Freeware. I do look forward to passing on the word to those I know are looking for a great program. As for getting the download, I do agree it would be nice to be able to receive an e-mail letting us know we have now been apporved & now can proceed to download the program. Understanding now that your limited on the behind the scenes. I did read my e-mail letting me know I could sign in to change my password & it might be up to 12+ hours before being able to download the program.  Knowing that I did this on New Year's Eve, I didn't even blink an eye having to wait. I am happy to say that I am now able to get aquainted with this program in 2014. My wish for you & this site is that you find volenteers that are Security verified & Tech Saavy willing to help you achieve the dreams you have for this site.

Thank You for all your efforts!

The magical Download Block

Hi guys, I am confused like J Johnson2 as well.  I had no trouble Registering and getting my reply, Password etc. but the Magical Box with the Download info just hasn't appeared.  There is a Block but it appears to way out of date with nothing really to download.  I have been trying now for two half hour sessions and nothing appears;  I will try again tomorrow.  I have to agree it is a somewhat confusing website.


Do you use NoScript

I wonder if it's something as simple as having NoScript or something similar blocking this on your browser?

i use FF with noscript,

i use FF with noscript, ghostery and adblock .. no problem to see and use the download box (or other parts from

Same here

I just registered and set up my password, but do not see a download block. Am I missing something?

Well, yes .  You missed the

Well, yes .  You missed the part about the timings of approvals.  We say it's 2-3 hours after you log back in , except at night when I am asleep.  You got approved within an hour (40 minutes, about...).


Am I in the queue?

Just approved more people 2

Just approved more people 2 minutes ago....

member for 1 month

And still waiting the download link. Didnt find any other mails also in the spamm folder. :(

Why have you waited a month

Why have you waited a month to get in touch with us? 

Ben Hartridge
member for 1 week, awaiting approval.

I've been waiting 7 days for approval, have I done something wrong?

You are approved, and

You are approved, and probably have been for a week.  Follow our instructions for browser clearing, etc, if you are not seeing the download boxes.  Contact me through the "Contact" tab on the main menu bar if you still have trouble---but be sure to send me what I need.

I'm having trouble posting to

I'm having trouble posting to the questions forum..

I'm trying to post the following....


Hi All,

Am trying to get started in Lightzone but am struggling on my first steps.

I have a directory structure of Photos\[year]\[month]\[day]\picture.jpg

I would like to see thumbnails/previews shown of all files in the 'Photos' folder AND sub folders.

This is pretty much the default Adobe Lightroom behavior.

Is this possible, and how might i go about it?

Thanks for taking a look at my question.

Ok, more detail on the abover

Ok, more detail on the abover issue...

I am unable to create a thread, when i attempt to i am directed to an error page


The website encountered an unexpected error. Please try again later.""


Seems i can only reply to posts.

I hope it is not a permissions issue, if so it should be dealt with by using an appropriate notification, not a website error message.

Dastardly Don
Ahhhhhh..... it has been fun getting registered.

Ahhhhhh..... it has been fun getting registered!  Ya know what? Every issue encountered was MY FAULT! Yep...... it only took me a good sleep to figure out that perhaps, just a chance, a longshot - I might try ANOTHER BROWSER! Bingo-Boingo all was well. REGISTERED in just a few minnutes, received email and changed password in perhaps 15 minutes (or less). It IS amazing how we (I) tend to look way past the obvious and go for the detailed and difficult resolution ....... all the while blaming "the other guys"! It's a character flaw and I exploit it to the fullest!

I suspect that even when WE THINK we did EVERYTHING as instructed -- sometimes it just "ain't so"! SOME solutions just need us (ME) to step back, grab a beer and a smoke and they are "fixed"; Others come to us (ME) in the middle of the night! It matters NOT when - what really matters is that sometimes it is the guy at the keyboard making things tough!  Hey folks! After all -- it isn't as we plunked down a wad o'cash to BUY the program! So - THANKS to those who continue on to provide a FREE SERVICE without asking for much in return! MICROSOFT sure as heck won't do THAT very often (Windows 10 for FREE is full of 'catches').

I'll burn the soapbox and get out of here. It will tale me MONTHS to become proficient with this or ANY similair program, so I had best go to square-one and get going! It should be a fun ride!

Be well everyone!

Senile Old Man Don 


shitty process

The process is frustrating. I haven't read through all the above. My own recent multiple tries started with an email to "renew your password". I had to enter my non existant current password first?

I do appreciate the time and effort that people put into open source software. I am so happy that there are alternatives to the software manufacturers that want to control and know everything.

I do feel for the few people who work on this, and then apparently make time to answer this and other forums! Life is too short. When I see this sort of commitment and effort I'm quite happy to make a donation.

Sorry you had a problem

We get about 75 to 100 signups a day, sometimes some more, but these days 75 seems like the lower limit.  Of that, I get maybe 1% or less comments and/or email about the signup process going afoul.  Of that part we know some is going direct to spam folders or even being intercepted without the end user even knowing about it.  Then there are the cases of people getting the email but then hitting the password entry glitch, as you apparently did.  I'm not happy about these, but they are glitches we've looked into and haven't yet found the causes. 

It looks like finding the cause is going to be costly, because it looks like it will be very time consuming.  So, that's why there remains some problems.  Right now we have bigger fish to fry, and so this continuing and irritating problem is not the top priority, but it is something on the list of things I need to fix.  And this is not a Masahiro problem, but wholly mine.  And what you need to know about me is that I'm a complete idiot when it comes to webmastering.  So, why am I doing it?  Because I am the one willing to do it over the long haul---Doug isn't able to, and when he does get involved it's because of a far more serious problem that is an emergency.

My personal attitude is that this problem, though irritating for sure, doesn't rise to the level of being super serious.  Yes, it degrades the initial user's experience, and that is a problem, but that's in the context of getting something pretty cool (that once cost close to $200 usd, btw...) for free.  That context ought to be borne in mind, I think.

The main problem is the

The main problem is the download links.


Many people cant read and understand dense text so my solution for an update of the download text would look something like this:



Click Here forSpideroak Links for Installing and Updating (Wintel, Mac)


Click Here for installing on Linux (click an icon and read the instruction for your distribution)


Just in case of traffic jams or other problems, here are the torrent files on Legit Torrents (Update, February 14, 2016---Torrents links are not currently working.  Please use the Spideroak links above until further notice.):

Torrent files


(within the last a link to another page with the direct link to the files)


It is a small but probably helpfull change to the site, and it is mostly text changes.


Have a nice day


I'll try to make that change this weekend.

IMHO the whole site is too dense


- There are a lot of links to historical information that don't seem relevant anymore.


- The lists of Raw Profiles are not updated. I understand that manually compiling and keeping up to date those lists can take time, so wouldn't it be simpler just to link to this?:

(I guess that repo could containt also profiles that will be avaiable in future and not yet released LZ versions, but I think it's better to show what's available + what's coming soon rather than a list of what was avaiable two years ago)


- Your proposed cleanup of the download block looks good, but for the torrent links what's the point of having some links and immediatly after the links writing that thery are not working anymore? Unless it is anticipated that they will start working again soon, I would just remove them and add them back when\if they will work again

Correct on all counts

Trying to carve out time to do all this stuff, but life keeps getting in the way!  But sometime in the next few days I am going to start some housekeeping...

The important things first

Yes, there is a lot of old outdated information. Putting these links into an archive folder some day. Just fine. But the download links is a source of big frustration to new users, resulting in angry comments and the same questions from people agian and again. So this one is the most frustrating and time consuming at this time.


And to have a life. Thats good ;-))


Have a nice day