We have an mobile application that allows new users to try the application as "ghost" users before signing up to become certified users. The application has a first use screen that tells users that it is OK to try the application out before signing up.

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Still, our statistics show that users choose sign in, even though they don't have an account.

I personally think that the problem lies somewhere between the copy of the new user button and still prominent Sign in button. Or it could be users getting confused between sign in and sign up. These are the things we should look into.

Are there other things we should consider to investigate futher?

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    I'm confused! Can users register on this page?
    – Tarek
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 12:53
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    Quite frankly, why do I have to click through in order to continue as a ghost? Shouldn't "ghost" be the default state of your app? Just make the Sign-in/Register obvious once you are in the app. What happens if a registered user logs out, then they are effectively ghosting, right?
    – MonkeyZeus
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 16:46
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    Why not skip this screen entirely and prime to user to sign up once they've done X interactions (after which you assume they find the app valuable)? Users that do have an account can still use a small "sign in" button that is present all the time. It would also serve the purpose of allowing ghosts to sign up before being asked to do so. Edit: yeah, what @MonkeyZeus said ;)
    – Prinzhorn
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 17:19
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    Why do you tell them the big button makes them a "new user" when it in fact does NOT create a new user? Your users must enter your app thinking "Oh, I already became a new user last time I used the app, so I just need to sign in to the user I created last time"
    – vijrox
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:55
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    Firstly, the buttons do not look like buttons. On top of that, the main button is so large, it just looks like a message, so, even less like a button. ... also, as somebody skim-reading, 'continue' is probably not a good choice of language for somebody that's new. They may be thinking 'no, I don't want to continue, I've not played before' Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 21:03

13 Answers 13



...walking up to a storefront. As you begin to open the door, an employee pulls the door closed from the inside. The employee begins shouting through the door. Though muffled, you can make out the following question:


Your first thought is, "Does it matter? Just let me come in." Through the obstructing (albeit, aesthetically pleasing and well-designed) glass, you see him waiting eagerly for your response. You see two options: you could just keep walking and enter the next store you come across, or you can try and placate the employee with one of the two answers--who knows what you'll say to move past this interaction.

Consider making the "exploration mode" be the default experience and allow users to sign in/register from inside the app.

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    Also, the employee is a dinosaur
    – SPavel
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 18:44
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    I didn't downvote, but I think it's not a good analogy. Physical stores do not usually require any "signing in" with one's account upon entering, while many apps commonly do. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 8:37
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    @O.R.Mapper I think the analogy works. Shops don't require registering, so such a sign would be unexpected. This app doesn't require registering (you can be a ghost) so this screen is unexpected. The fact that many apps do require registration might make this app somewhat unexpected, and possibly explains why users choose "Sign in" (force of habit), but doesn't alter the fact that the screen itself isn't really needed.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 12:59
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    @O.R.Mapper "users don't know that this app doesn't require registering before arriving at that screen" So remove the screen. Let them wander (as a ghost) and, either after a period of time, or when they try to use a feature that requires registration, then you can ask them if they want to continue as a ghost (as by now they will be aware that they can) or whether they want to register.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 13:10
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    I think a better analogy is to how supermarkets ask for your membership card at the register, not at the entrance. And if you're not a member, they can usually sign you up right there, after you've filled your cart. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 13:37

My guess is that your users don't understand the function of "Continue as a new user" button and click on Sign in thinking that they could probably register there.

Would you consider renaming the button to "Continue without an account" Also I'd consider adding a sign up button in case the user just wants to sign up! :)

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    Alternatively, I've seen "Continue as a Guest" used for this purpose. I think it fits nicely.
    – Delioth
    Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 16:13
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    Hit the nail on the head. Even just looking at the screenshot, I have absolutely no idea what exactly the "Continue as a new user" button does. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 19:50
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    Personally, I like the flow when it is account focused. So there is a button that says "Sign In / Register" and a link / secondary button for "Skip this step". It's more familiar and is easier to understand. It also means that every time I open the app it reminds me that I have not created an account yet.
    – Kapler
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 21:11
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    @DangerZone Even looking at the screenshot and reading the OP's description of what they hope users would do and what users actually do, I still don't know what the "Continue as new user button" does. I suspect it lets me use the app as a guest, but I'm not really sure.
    – stannius
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 22:24
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    @stannius I'd say it obviously it creates a new user (so I can sign in) and then lets me continue. Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 5:42

Honestly speaking, just from personal experience I'd probably click the sign in button too (not purposely of course)

It's just conditioning from all the garbage apps, sites, whatever, that have that giant button which is usually some stupid scam or random useless button used to grab attention and coax people into clicking it (and it does something annoying), whereas the normal "click here to continue" button ends up being the smaller one and less obstructive

So there might be a bit of that underlying psychological aspect involved

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    Interesting idea. This would mean that people are less likely to click "Sign in" If both buttons had the same size. It could also help to have the "Sign in" button first, so those would be possible solutions to try out.
    – iFreilicht
    Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 11:14

Are the users trying to "Sign in" using their Google account?

Users may want to use their Google account for apps on their phone and "Sign in" is closer to that action than "Continue as new user", which has the connotation of creating an account (email, password, email to verify, etc.).

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    This was absolutely my thought as well. Users may want to see if they can sign in using the credentials of some existing social media account. I'm not sure there's much to be done about that, as this has become a fairly normal expectation these days. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 17:17
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    Or users think they can register from there, as often sign in pages have an option to register on them and there doesn't appear any other such option. I would try two options, "New User", "Returning User" or something like that. So people who don't have an account but want one know which to click. Commented Jun 22, 2017 at 21:05

Demonstration or trial accounts are traditionally cut-down or limited versions of the full service/product.

You users are probably perceiving this difference even though it's not there.

I would suggest launching straight into the 'trial' version and including the sign in for registered users somewhere in the top of the page - that way you're not asking your users to choose. You're showing them the app before they get to choose.

And your registered users are still only one click away from starting the sign in process.


Imagine you are a user that wants to get started as quickly as possible but have a very vague interest and extremely minimal attention span, at that point you are in scanning mode, not reading mode. What you are doing is scanning the screen for things that look familiar and clicking/tapping there, and in the screen you posted "Sign in" looks and sounds a lot more familiar than anything else going on in there. So people inevitably click/tap on it before spending a second to read.

Possible solutions:

  1. Change the wording so it no longer sounds familiar (for example, from "Sign in" to "Continue with an existing account"), this will force people to spend an extra second to read once their attempt to skip it by scanning fails.
  2. Don't make people choose and default to "Guest" mode with an option to sign in somewhere else in the app.

You're missing an "I'm ready to sign up" button.

You need three choices:

  • Let me just browse
  • I am ready to sign up
  • already a user, sign in

I said it specifically as "I am ready to sign up" twice because that is your use case here. You have not provided for them, and they are very confused.

What's different here, app vs. website, is most website visitors are casual drive-by's who got dragged there by Google, and the signup nag is murderously annoying.** As opposed to an app, where (barring mischief) they went out of their way to install your app. And chose it as one of the limited apps they can fit on their phone.

They are already engaged. Your UX blunder is failing to realize that.

Though as others have said, you are better off not having this interstitial at all, and just let them mosey anonymously until they hit an account requirement.

** or worse, the content coverup, as Facebook and Pinterest do (the latter is particularly noxious as they carpetbomb Google Image Search).


If I saw this, especially if I were paying only as much attention as I typically pay to an app login screen, I would be confused about what exactly you were inviting me to do. The idea of try-before-you-sign-up might be sensible and novel, but the novelty is what makes it confusing. When I'm opening a new app for the first time that typically uses accounts, I'm expecting to create an account before doing anything else. This interface then surprises me. In other words, it's not the copy that's confusing, it's the concept!

The copy can help, though. I agree with other suggestions to just drop the user into the app without stopping on this screen at all, but if you're committed to the splash screen, change the big button text to just "New User". That makes it totally unambiguous where I, as a new user, am supposed to go.

For the same reason, I would remove all or most of the text above the button. Either it's not getting read, or reading is just instilling doubt as to where the button goes: "Wait, I'm trying to make an account, but apparently this will do something other than that, which requires explanation. Better not click there." You can allude to the sign-up not being immediate, but don't have more than one short sentence there overall. Like: "Explore [app name], then sign up!" This includes basic expectation-setting (this is where you go to sign up, you'll explore the app first) and omits extra details (you don't need an account, you'll be prompted to make one later).

Even that, honestly, is unnecessary. All the new user really needs to know is which button to press to start using the app. They'll discover immediately that they can explore the app without creating an account, and they'll be prompted to create one whenever you prompt them. If they're not making choices, they don't need to be told what's happening. They can see it.

If a new user does click on "sign in," is there a button there to create an account? If someone's that determined to have one already, let them!

Also, your dinosaur is cute. A+ dinosaur.

  • 1
    "and they'll be prompted to create one whenever you prompt them" - I think that's a bad solution. Apps that can seemingly be used without an account and that surprise me with a request to sign up for free at some point usually get removed from my devices. Who knows, the next time they might ask me to sign up for a paid membership. I can do without any surprises of that kind. Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 7:36
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    That's a fair criticism. I included that option only because the question implied a commitment to the "try before you [sign up]" model which I don't actually think is necessary here.
    – Relsqui
    Commented Jun 26, 2017 at 17:26

I like the suggestion that some other users have made, of just logging straight into "guest" mode and then providing an option to upgrade (either by registering or signing in).

However, if you just want to tweak this page, you can probably improve it by giving the user less to think about. Get rid of all the text on this page and just provide them with two equal-sized buttons, one that says words to the effect of "Sign in with existing account" and another that says "I'm new here". It's very easy for the user to decide which button to press, as it's a very simple question.

If they click "I'm new here", then show them the "No account is needed..." text with a simple "Continue" button to acknowledge this and move into guest mode.


It's possible that your users are simply not reading the 3 lines of text that precede the button. See if you can make the function of the "Continue as new user" button clear only through the button's text.

The buttons should also complement each other in terms of making their purpose understood.

For example: "New User" and "Existing User"


The words on the button are really confusing. There are two ways to solve the problem here. Either change the name of the button (easy change) to something easier to understand. Instead of "Continue as new user", you can go for "New User", or "Try it out" or something similar.

Second way to solve this problem is to not have this screen in the first place. Launch into the guest mode, and have a flyer somewhere with words "Join us" or "Create account". You can also remove the flyer and let user register when they are at a place requiring account creation. Obviously this change requires extra work, so might not be perfect for every scenario.

I will personally go with changing the name for now, and letting users use the application for a while. If the data still points to the same outcome, move ahead with the second solution.


Try to make an A/B split test between this version and another where the "Continue as a new user" looks more bright, the contrast on the call to action is very low. This makes an invisible effect for the users.

We're waiting for results


Why not just going with Create Account/Sign in? It would be a similar flow to most mobile apps that let you create an account on the fly using Google/FB/others. The account created using social login would be your equivalent to the 'ghost', and let users in Settings 'upgrade' their account.

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    Logging in with an existing social network profile wouldn't be a "ghost" login. That's creating an account with a unique identifier. Commented Jun 21, 2017 at 17:50
  • Creating an account with Google Or Facebook is creating an account. It is in no way less creating an account than giving over email/nick/password twice. You are simply using OpenID (or in Facebook's case, more like ClosedID) to authenticate. Also speaking as someone with 150 accounts (I keep a spreadsheet, try it), I do not want another. Commented Jun 23, 2017 at 17:04

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