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For a user, when is it better to be asked to do the following:

  1. "Sign In" vs. "Log in"
  2. "Join" vs. "Register" vs. "Sign Up"
  3. "Sign Out" vs. "Log out"

Different websites seem to use them differently, and I wonder if there are strategic occasions for each?

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For "Sign In" vs. "Log In", see ux.stackexchange.com/questions/1080/… –  Patrick McElhaney Sep 26 '11 at 20:41

2 Answers 2

up vote 43 down vote accepted

Log in / out is more technical sounding than sign in / out. That said, I don't think there is any confusion with either one of them. The last time I looked at major sites using log v. sign it was a pretty even split between them. I would opt for sign in / out simply because it is more human speak.

Regarding Join, Register and Sign up. They each have slightly different meanings language wise, although even here I doubt that it will be critical.

For my (arguably subjective) take on their meanings:

  • Join is when it's a club. You join a rowing club.
  • Register is used when you are simply adding your details to some system for future use or access. You register to vote.
  • Sign up usually has the connotation of a service or conference. You sign up for the military, or sign up for this conference.

The best thing that you can do is to ask a representative sample of your audience what is clearer and more human to them. Then go with that.

Edit: Something to consider is using "Sign up" and "Log in" as they are further apart visually and faster to scan than using "Sign up" and "Sign in".

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+1 very good answer :) I want to add that I personally prefer "login"/"logout" because I feel I know exactly what i'm doing by clicking it. It's a little more technical, yes, but it gives me a small sense of trust. –  Tom Sep 26 '11 at 19:54
    
It's interesting that "log in" sounds more technical. I've always thought of "log" as being analogous to the log I have to sign when I arrive at my doctor's office. Sign in and log in are exactly the same in that context: you have to sign the log to let them know who's waiting. That said, "sign in" is the more natural expression for that action for me, but I wonder if there are places (or situations? occupations?) where "log in" would be more common. –  Pam G Sep 26 '11 at 23:16
    
Sign In is more so used when going to an actual in real life event, and they ask you to sign in. Log in is for websites. –  user39400 Jan 5 at 21:09
    
+1 for pointing out that "Sign up" and "Sign in" are visually very close. I find that combo confusing and for that reason avoid using if possible –  User Feb 3 at 22:46
    
+1 for "Sign up" and "Log in" as they are further apart visually and faster to scan than using "Sign up" and "Sign in". –  Shishir Gupta Jul 31 at 13:21

As a non-native english speaker, I always have found sign in & sign up, VERY confusing, I always click the wrong button. You should avoid Sign up. Login and Logout are not so much confusing

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protected by Community Mar 11 at 18:53

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