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In terms of user experience, and I suspect that this might have SEO considerations too.. BUT..

If I have a variety of pages on my website which require the user to be logged in.. for example a 'Favourites' page, and a 'Suggestions' page (which requires login to essentially prevent spam..) should I

  • a) automatically redirect a user to the login page
  • b) display a page explaining the great feature that will be available to the user if they do login.. AND display a link to the login page?

At the moment it is setup as a), but I suspect b) would be better.

Thoughts?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Always give the user options and information. Redirects that happen "on your behalf" always give users the impression of not being in control of what is happening.

As you quite correctly mentioned, option b) allows you to leverage SEO to push the findability of your contents, and at the same time can be a preview for users that works as an incentive for users to log in, given they can see what kind of content they could access by logging in.

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Sorry, but I think this answer is plain wrong. Users already intend to go to the page in question, so marketing copy is wastedwords. I've never seen users tripped up by a login redirect in testing. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Dec 21 '12 at 16:15

Why redirect at all? Using a modal is a simple way to streamline the entire process.

  1. User clicks a link for a page that requires them to be logged in.
  2. The page loads, but a modal appears over the content.
  3. User signs in, modal disappears, done.

This requires no redirects, and the user never has the leave the page. They're ultimately brought directly to where they wanted to go, an extra step (logging in) is simply introduced to those users who aren't logged in.

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In terms of UX my answer would be that a combination of both would be best. Show a preview of the feature they are looking for but also provide the login form instead of a link to it. This way neither efficiency nor discoverability would be lacking.

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+1 for this answer: the assumption that login has to be a separate page, or has a user experience as separate page is outdated IMHO. – wintvelt Jan 22 at 13:00
    
Sometimes login or sign up on a separate page are needed for security reasons. Most websites run third party scripts on their pages, so sensitive information as passwords should be handled separately, on a https. – JotaRMonteiro Jan 22 at 20:06

A user who has clicked a link to a page is already interested in the feature. Forcing them to go through a gateway page is just going to incur drop-off. When I click X, I want either X or a means of getting X - not marketing copy telling me why I should take the action I already chose a page ago.

There is nothing wrong with sending users to a login page, providing that it's clear where the users will be going next, that logging in takes the user to their intended destination and you don't redirect the user after the destination page has started loading, which is jarring.

Just use a login page that is identifiably such, with secondary content that confirms where the user is going and therefore why it's worth logging in.

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Not necessarily.. surely? If there is a link to 'Suggest', I currently redirect them to the login and it says "You will be redirected to .. on successful login', BUT as mentioned above by saying 'This is what you can do here, and this is what you get for doing it' surely you wont lose people genuinely interested, whilst at the same time enlightening this user as well as any user stumbling along from a search engine? – Thomas Clowes Dec 21 '12 at 16:59
    
@ThomasClowes: the login page where you automatically redirect your users could also display that information simply based on from where the user was redirected to the login page. With a clever bit of (partial) html files based around the referer, you could make it a very versatile login page indeed. – Marjan Venema Dec 21 '12 at 18:44
    
This is true. I could pass some sort of referer to my login page which loads and fills a div with information about the page to which they are going.. but this does negate the SEO benefit. It becomes a dynamic login page, NOT informative landing pages as such.. – Thomas Clowes Dec 21 '12 at 18:46
    
@ThomasClowes - exactly what would the landing pages tell people? What are these features? Are they really likely landing pages? I'm not sure what sorts of login-required functionality are a likely first steps for a browsing user. – Jimmy Breck-McKye Dec 21 '12 at 21:24
    
One page is a favourites page which shows the users favourite establishments, another shows establishments near to the user. As such it needs to know who or where the user is.. – Thomas Clowes Dec 21 '12 at 22:19

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