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Let's say that on mobile devices, a user selects a menu icon to reveal a dropdown menu of navigation items. Within these navigation items, there is the option for the user to login - With all other items relating only to non logged in users.

Considering the below as example items, where should the login item be placed?

  • How it Works
  • Register
  • The Community
  • Login

Any references to articles or studies on this placement is very much appreciated also.

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I think the 'login' process should be a gateway for a specific activity or set of activities. IE It shouldn't be a voluntary process but rather one that is required to proceed beyond a certain point. Users shouldn't have to choose to login (what happens if they don't do it?).

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If the login button MUST be in a dropdown, then I would put it at the top position, since that it is going to be the most frequently used link (correct me if I'm wrong, I'm making an assumption).

If this is indeed the case, it would make sense to put the login link closest to area where the mouse is currently hovering (the area that caused the dropdown).

  • Login
  • Register
  • The community
  • How it Works

I'm suggesting login first, register is second only because it is logical to group those 2 together, and users will expect to see them together. The community will likely be accessed more than how it works, so I've suggested it to be third.

Having said all that, I would always prefer to have login as a top level link (not in a dropdown), since it is usually accessed so frequently.

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Thanks, Rich. Given that this is for a mobile layout (and restrictions of the design) it is a requirement that the login option be placed within a drop down menu. I agree that the item should probably be placed at the very top, but since there is no mouse in this use case the reasoning here doesn't quite work. But you're right, it is logical to place related items together. Thanks. – Daniel Meade Sep 30 '13 at 12:59
Most mobile devices cannot hover. – cimmanon Sep 30 '13 at 13:59

I would place the login button at the very bottom. Even more so because once the user logs in that log in would then turn into log out. Keeping it at the very bottom makes sure the user doesn't accidentally log him self off in case he hits the menu bar icon twice around the same pixel area.

This is also a commonly accepted practice with respect to login/out links on a drop down, I believe. A few examples : Google mail's sign out (non mobile), groupon, living social and a few other websites.

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The login button doesn't have to dictate where the logout button resides. – cimmanon Sep 30 '13 at 21:11
@cimmanon Of course, you could hide it in a labyrinth. I was only talking about accepted practices of the same and of course, common sense – happybuddha Oct 1 '13 at 13:58
The average user doesn't want to logout, though. Logging in is a major gateway of the website. To grant the logout link the same prominence as the login link has makes zero sense since the last thing the user wants to do after they've logged in is to logout. Note that SE does not have the link to logout immediately visible (but a user who is not logged in will always see the login link). – cimmanon Oct 1 '13 at 14:17
@cimmanon unless of course the user is on a banking site or using someone else's device, or many other potential reasons. – steveax Oct 2 '13 at 4:34

Placing the login on top is useful if the site is heavily tailored to user account information. In other words, the site has little use for visitors that aren't users. On the other hand, the site may need low user info to provide value for most visitors and instead How it Works is the most useful link.

Once you've determined that, give consideration to the next view after a user is logged in. A logged in user's view will likely become something like My Account (seen in the screenshot below) - assuming all of this must stay in the drop down like you said. Login and My Account would have consistent placement.

Maybe planning out the flow more thoroughly (what's the next view) and pinpointing the needs of the site (heavily user info focused) will help with your decision.

enter image description here

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