We didn't have a login page

February 27, 2023

Back when I was leading the product team at a tiny startup in Trivandrum, I made a decision to leave out the login functionality in the first 6 weeks of development. Not just the login screen, but everything related to authentication as such.

This was a web application, and targeted at the pharmaceutical industry, so you better have a great explanation for not having authentication in place. Here’s mine:

Products are meant to solve a pain the customer faces. It’s a tool they use to get their job done. When building out a new product, the primary focus should be on enabling them to do that thing efficiently. The secondary focus should be to keep the product team hooked on building value quickly.

With a tiny team (8 members) building a new product from scratch, I made a bet it would pay more to build out the core solution in the first few weeks than the shell around it.

I made a bet that our customers would be excited to see a part of their new work flow coming to life. We could use the feedback and start iterations immediately.

We needed at least a couple more 6 week sprints before we launched it for user testing anyway. So there would be plenty of time to add all that in later.

So I de-prioritised the auth system altogether. Whenever you open the web app, you’d be logged in automatically as a particular user. We created the database entry for this user, but nothing more than that: No way to change their name, or profile picture or anything else.

And six weeks later, I started the demo saying “Here’s what you see when you log in”. No one even cared about the whole thing!

The client was pumped to see the dashboard and a couple of other screens brought to life. Our team got their first bits of feedback and we were really excited to put them into motion. And I was really happy to have made the call this way.

I should tell you that we did put in a good auth system in the weeks following this.

But from that point on, this is always how I started when I was in charge of building out new products.