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After a user signs up for a website, what would be more user friendly: redirect them to the page they came from (if they did) or send them to some sort of a "welcome" page?

I currently have my website set up so that after you register you will be sent to a welcome page and saying thanks for joining and stuff.

Is this a good way to do it or would simply sending the user back to the page they came from (if it is on the site) be better for the user?

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Not releated to UX but from a security point of view if you do redirect users please remember to validate the URL you redirect them to owasp.org/index.php/… –  Daveo Aug 27 '12 at 6:18
    
A good way of doing it would be to give the choice with 2 links (or more). Most people will want to go where they came from though (and that might be the welcome page). Also, "where they came from" is in the http referer header which isn't sent by every browser. So don't forget you mgiht not have this information available (in fact, you could but the user doesn't want you to... so if you do have it, don't use it). –  xavierm02 Aug 27 '12 at 13:03
    
You can also allow to log via Ajax but that's a lot of work because you need to know which parts of the pages to refresh and to have all parts of your pages refreshable via Ajax. And from a security point of view, it means you need to have ALL the pages secure (like being 100% sure you don't allow some kind of script insertion in forums etc.) whereas the old way of doing it allows you to "only" secure the login page for that. –  xavierm02 Aug 27 '12 at 13:09
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If you want to thank the user, the confirmation email is a great place to do it. –  zzzzBov Aug 27 '12 at 18:44
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6 Answers

up vote 41 down vote accepted

Overall, I think taking users where they came from can be better. Usually, users register to continue their path to a certain goal. For example, Kate was reading comments to a news article, she thought that she has something good to say and clicked "Comment" (Kate's goal is to comment). Now the system asks Kate to register and takes Kate straight to the section to comment; Kate's path to the goal is not broken. If you take Kate to the intro page; she will be taken away from the path and then has to navigate around to get back on track. You could perhaps show a welcome page/widget that can be easily dismissed and the user can continue their path where they left of.

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+1 for a compelling use of user stories. –  zzzzBov Aug 27 '12 at 18:42
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+1 Same thing for localization / translation: don't take me to the home page. –  msanford Aug 27 '12 at 19:00
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I would look at my user flow as this answer suggest but remember the "Peak-End Rule" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peak%E2%80%93end_rule) that states people judge their experiences by their peaks (positive or negative) and how they end. It's important to confirm registration with a welcome screen. But why not include a large enough space for "Continue commenting on 'xxx'"? –  JeroenEijkhof Aug 28 '12 at 18:49
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Users come to your site to complete a task. You should make this as easy for them as possible.

Registration may be a necessary step from your perspective, but for users it is an annoyance and an additional step they have to take in order to complete their task.

If you then direct them to a welcome page that makes them lose their context and adds little value to the task they are trying to complete, you will annoy them A LOT, and potentially get abandonment.

It is definitely better to let users retain their context. If you want to say thankyou to users and provide them with additional tips or links that may add value, send them an email that they can read at their leisure instead.

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There are usually two scenarios of registration. Registration as direct action (user wants to sign in to use service) or registration as required action (user wants to add comment as in Anna's post).

For the second case of indirect registration it is better to return user to the context, where he've met the requirement to be registered to do certain actions, as other commentors told.

But if registration was a direct action, it can be better to send him to some kind of welcome page which tells him what to do and/or what he can do next. It can be a special page, that will appear once, or for some services it can be a casual dashboard that the user will often use in future but with additional extra messages for novices (for instance, link to tour, hints, instructions, even some master to fill in necessary information etc.). This can help make the process of immersion to new context increasingly easier for user — particularly for complex services (such as professional social networks, intranets, blogging platforms, prototyping tools and so on).

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Moreover - for the first case - sending the user to the page she came from is not satisfying enough. If she requested an action that was forbidden without identification, she expects to be redirected not only to the page but also to the action. –  Bartosz Rakowski Aug 27 '12 at 6:27
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@BartoszRakowski Of course, and this place and context should be saved entirely (for instance, nonregistered user can fill some fields or changes filter settings etc., and returning after registration she should see all these changes in the same way). –  Alex Ovtcharenko Aug 27 '12 at 6:36
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This is the best answer. Preserve user context when it makes sense, but for a new user who came from your "Sign Up" page, give them a tour or a useful dashboard (more than just 'thanks for joining!'). Your funnel doesn't stop once they've registered! –  Steven Noto Aug 27 '12 at 15:17
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You are assuming that because most websites do one or the other, there are only two possibilities.

My take on the problem would be to allow the signup process to happen modelessly, i.e. using a popup window or by using asynchronous client-side technologies in the page.

If the user never actually leaves the page at which they find the need to sign up, this will be the most usable solution.

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Two different Scencarios:

  1. Registering from an "action" page (publish comment / download content / ...)
  2. Registering from a landing page (home page / ...)

In case 1 I'd love to register in an independent page (while maintaining the "action" page open). When registration process is completed (via confirmation email, re-login and any other step) the "action" page should be automatically refreshed to allow me to do the action I want to do. If that refresh is too complicated, a redirection to exactly the same action (improved by leaving me at the same scroll level) could do it.

In case 2 I would like to be redirected to a "What do you want to do now?" page with information about what rights has the user gained by signing up.

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We can show a short success message on same page instead of moving to another page. At the same time we can also send an email. Why do we need welcome page? It will break the user flow.

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