New Handshake Login Workflow Released!

Posted Jan 26, 2016 by Brian Reath

Handshake is excited to announce the release of our new login workflow, which should greatly improve the ease-of-use of our login process! The new workflow now prompts users for their username (email address) first, then presents them with the best login option for their account.

New Login Figure 1. Screenshot of new login page

The new login page is now available at https://app.joinhandshake.com/login.

Rationale

Over the past year, we’ve heard a lot of feedback from users regarding confusion with our current sign-in process. When a user first visits our login page at https://app.joinhandshake.com (or via one of our school specific URLs, such as https://stanford.joinhandshake.com), they were previously greeted with a list of login options that often left the user confused.

Old Login Figure 2. Screenshot of old login page

Typical questions included:

  • I visited https://app.joinhandshake.com; where are my school login options?
  • I’m on your mobile application; why don’t I see my school login options?
  • Which login option am I supposed to be using?

We’ve aimed to solve these problems and more with our new login workflow. Our primary objectives with this change are to:

  • Reduce user confusion.
  • Reduce the number of users that are unable to log into Handshake.
  • Provide a more familiar login workflow that is inspired by other popular websites.
  • Provide a better login experience from our mobile application.
  • Give ourselves flexibility to add new authentication options and user types (such as alumni, faculty, etc.) in the future.

We’re excited to release this feature - read on to learn more about the changes.

Core Concepts

Handshake’s new login process is driven by the email address under which your account is registered. We first prompt users for this piece of information so that Handshake can look up the account and determine the valid login options available.

One key concept to understand with Handshake’s authentication system is the fact that there are two ways to login:

  • Logging directly into Handshake with a Handshake username & password
  • Logging into Handshake through a university’s single sign-on system

Handshake Authentication

Single sign-on is great for university users, but there are several reasons why a user might not be able to utilize university single sign-on, including:

  • They’re an employer user, and are not affiliated directly with a university.
  • They’re an alumni user that no longer has an active single sign-on account with their university.
  • They’re a student or career services user, but their university does not support a single sign-on solution with Handshake.
  • They’re a valid user who simply wishes to maintain a Handshake account without using single sign-on.

When single sign-on is not available or desirable, we provide our native Handshake authentication system. Our authentication system is standard and driven by a user’s unique email address and a Handshake password. This is available as a login option for all users, even if they have a single sign-on option available to them. If you have a Handshake account, you can set an initial Handshake password or reset your current password via our password reset page.

An example of the login process for directly logging into Handshake, using the example of an employer user, can be seen in the video below:

Video 1. Employer login process

As the videos shows, this option is simple and allows easy access to your Handshake account. The process is similar for other types of users who wish to utilize the native Handshake authentication system.

Authentication via University Single Sign-on

Many university’s love the ease-of-use that single sign-on provides, and we fully support this use case. We present available single sign-on options as the primary option to the user once we’ve determined that they have a Handshake account. This allows students, career services users, and some alumni (if they still have an account with their university) to conveniently use the same login used for other university services to log into Handshake.

Most universities that provide a single sign-on solution to students and staff utilize technologies that provide a login page that is outside of Handshake. In these cases, once the user’s email address has been collected, the Handshake login workflow will present a link to the university single sign-on login page. Once the user has clicked this link and successfully authenticated via the university’s single sign-on login page, they will be redirected back to Handshake and will be automatically logged in.

A walkthrough of this process is shown in the video below:

Video 2. Login with university single sign-on (SAML or CAS)

Some other universities provide a single sign-on solution that allows Handshake to present simple username and password fields directly within Handshake. This information is then passed to the university single sign-on system by Handshake and the user is authenticated.

An example of this process is shown in the video below:

Video 3. Login with university single sign-on (LDAP)

Depending on the underlying single sign-on technology used by your university, you will be using one of the two single sign-on workflows shown above. As mentioned earlier, users utilizing their university’s single sign-on systems can also login directly to Handshake by setting an initial Handshake password or resetting their current password via our password reset page.

Going Forward

In the future, we plan to further streamline the login workflows for various scenarios. In particular, we plan to analyze the login process for our alumni users and continue to streamline this flow. Stay tuned for future updates in relation to these changes.

We’re also excited by the options that the new login workflow opens up to our different types of users. The flexibility of this new system will give us the ability to support different user types and authentication scenarios without having to drastically change the login process going forward.

Deprecations

With this change, there are a few Handshake settings that have been deprecated. The “alternate sign-in” options that universities were previously able to configure to control one additional login option on the Handshake login page for their custom Handshake site (such as https://stanford.joinhandshake.com) has been removed in favor of the new login workflow.

The other “authentication information” settings for universities remain in place and control the verbiage used when displaying the link to bring the user to the university’s single sign-on system.

Additional Resources

If you’re interested in learning even more about our new login workflow, visit our KnowledgeBase, which contains articles that go into greater detail about the intricacies of the new workflow and covers all of the login workflows for students, career services, employers, mentors, and alumni.

As always, you can also reach out to our support team via email at support@joinhandshake.com for additional assistance.

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