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It seems like a well adopted web standard that a login form should have a "don't have an account? [Sign up]".

I'm having trouble seeing the rationale behind it. How common is it really that a user clicks on login enters details that are not in the system and then proceeds to sign up via a different form?

We have kind of a special situation that I'm working on where we will do a domain switch. The old user database will not be brought over to the new site so old users might try to log in with their old details. In this case it makes sense (we're going to great lengths outside of the login case to inform the users what is happening).

I'm opting for displaying information about signing up when the login fails. But I've run into an argument with a stakeholder that claims it needs to be a visible link that is always availible. His argument is that "every body else is doing it".

enter image description here vs enter image description here

So why should you be able to see an option to sign up when you're entering an area to log in?

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Is this a existing application under a different domain? Do the users already know about the migration? You should consider to place a info primer above both forms ... –  Labuschin Sep 26 '13 at 14:43
    
The end goal options for the user are not login or sign up, but simply login. The need for an account and option to sign up are a step on the way to that end goal that you need to present. –  JamesRyan Sep 27 '13 at 9:30

2 Answers 2

Because there is nothing telling you that you will get to see the link if you fail to log in.

It breaks down to these cases:

  • You know you have an account --> normal procedure.
  • You think you have an account but you don't --> Failed login.
  • You know you do not have an account --> you will look for a way to get one. If it is not there, why would you try to log in when you know it is going to fail? So provide the link from the start.
  • You do have an account, but you think you don't --> let the signup process fail instead, saying something like "Your email address is already registered. Need a new password?"

It would be a different case if you didn't provide the password box. The combo Username + Password is so widely used for logging in, that your check-if-registered-as-you-type is not expected. What you could do is to break that down step wise.

mockup

download bmml source – Wireframes created with Balsamiq Mockups

Your stakeholder's approach is proven to work, though. A different approach (both yours and mine) sets higher demands on responsiveness and UX. For example, what if the check-as-you-type is lagging?

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"You know you do not have an account --> you will look for a way to get one. If it is not there, why would you try to log in when you know it is going to fail? So provide the link from the start." –  Anders Olofsson Sep 26 '13 at 13:55
    
Not used to autosave on enter.... Point taken. I think I can see a few scenarios that might get tricky if only showing the option on login fail. –  Anders Olofsson Sep 26 '13 at 14:05
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I also say, you want to sign up, so you click login knowing there will be a signup link on this page, goal achieved. I've done this many times, maybe I'm unique, but probably not. –  ColinSharpe Sep 26 '13 at 17:01

Good @jog, Adding more to jog's answer. For a better signup/ login form you can go through the following post.

http://uxdesign.smashingmagazine.com/2011/08/22/new-approaches-to-designing-login-forms/

I like Quora, BagCheck style. It'll certainly add value to the app. You can show photo, place of the user if such is already registered when they type email, so that the user may not end up creating a new user account using different email. This will also help them try out using their other email ids as well for logging in, if they are sure of having an account.

Amazon has a little different version of signup/login forms, if you are thinking to combining them together, but in traditional style.

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+1 Interesting link –  JOG Sep 26 '13 at 13:31

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