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Many web-based applications are emphasizing sign up forms and hiding log in forms, often placing log in on another page.

I'm under the impression that the majority of users are not first time users, so why wouldn't the logging in be made as fast and easy as signing up?

It seems like it would be better to use an experience more like Amazon.com where the user enters an email and a password and chooses either returning customer or new customer.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Emphasizing registration is marketing/sales activity, and in terms of sales funnel it is more vital to convert as many as possible first time visitors to registered visitors (because number of first time visitors is always greater than registered).

Registered users, especially regular visitors, usually know the web site itself and the position of log-in form.

So these two reasons make more emphasize on registration and hiding sign in forms.

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Agree with you, just want add to your reasons another one. Remembering user between visits is quite frequently technique so in many cases the user is auto-logged in next time. Though developers should not rely on this pattern. –  Alexey Kolchenko Jun 20 '13 at 5:51
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I'm under the impression that the majority of users are not first time users, so why wouldn't the logging in be made as fast and easy as signing up?

While the majority of users over the whole site may not be first time users, the majority of people hitting the non-logged-in home page may well be. Especially with sites where logins do not persist between visits.

Your analytics should hopefully be able to tell you for sure ;-)

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