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I'm designing a microsite that has all the usual functionality. There's a simple registration/login process.

Is it a bad idea to not have a login page and instead just have username and password fields as part of the navigation?

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I'm not sure I follow you. Many sites have user accounts but doesn't force the user to log in before accessing (like forums, e-commerce sites etc). Social networking sites (Facebook Twitter) usually have forced login. It's all a matter of what type of service/site you're running and what your aims are with that site. –  AndroidHustle Oct 25 '13 at 10:55
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I think he means is it a bad idea to not have a dedicated log-in page (as in mysite.com/login) if there is already a log-in form in the navigation element of every page - should there be the additional redundancy. –  Kai Oct 25 '13 at 11:28
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You can use sliding panel which contains more rich functionality, including Forgot Password link, etc. The initial state is folded and takes small space. Though it should be distinct from navigation items. –  Alexey Kolchenko Oct 25 '13 at 12:08
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3 Answers

Why not both?

You probably gonna need some place to display more information, like the password reset form and such.

This built-in login is good for easy navigation and access, but when you need something more complex it's good to have a page dedicated to it.

If you're going for hover to display the login form, remember to set a conditional rule on CSS to change from onhover to onclick for mobiles

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The downside of dedicated login page is that it breaks the application flow. A user accidentally clicks and all page is gone! A gentle slider that disappear if I click away is much nicer user experience.

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It's not necessarily a bad idea. Personally, I see more pros with having a dedicated login page however.

  • Keeps navigation cleaner without having to add other supporting links like forgot password or social media logins.

  • Simpler for mobile devices. (Having a dropdown login or modals for mobile devices is a pain.) This is in case your site isn't responsive.

  • For faster logins, users can bookmark the /login page rather than loading the full homepage everytime. This also allows you to direct any users specifically to the log in page if you ever needed to.

I'm sure there are others, but these are just some of the benefits I've noticed.

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