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For a user, when is it better to be asked to do the following:

  1. "Sign In" vs. "Log in"
  2. "Join" vs. "Register" vs. "Sign Up"
  3. "Sign Out" vs. "Log out"

Different websites seem to use them differently, and I wonder if there are strategic occasions for each?

76

Log in / out is more technical sounding than sign in / out. That said, I don't think there is any confusion with either one of them. The last time I looked at major sites using log v. sign it was a pretty even split between them. I would opt for sign in / out simply because it is more human speak.

Regarding Join, Register and Sign up. They each have slightly different meanings language wise, although even here I doubt that it will be critical.

For my (arguably subjective) take on their meanings:

  • Join is when it's a club. You join a rowing club.
  • Register is used when you are simply adding your details to some system for future use or access. You register to vote.
  • Sign up usually has the connotation of a service or conference. You sign up for the military, or sign up for this conference.

The best thing that you can do is to ask a representative sample of your audience what is clearer and more human to them. Then go with that.

Edit: Something to consider is using "Sign up" and "Log in" as they are further apart visually and faster to scan than using "Sign up" and "Sign in".

  • 1
    +1 very good answer :) I want to add that I personally prefer "login"/"logout" because I feel I know exactly what i'm doing by clicking it. It's a little more technical, yes, but it gives me a small sense of trust. – thwd Sep 26 '11 at 19:54
  • It's interesting that "log in" sounds more technical. I've always thought of "log" as being analogous to the log I have to sign when I arrive at my doctor's office. Sign in and log in are exactly the same in that context: you have to sign the log to let them know who's waiting. That said, "sign in" is the more natural expression for that action for me, but I wonder if there are places (or situations? occupations?) where "log in" would be more common. – Pam G Sep 26 '11 at 23:16
  • Sign In is more so used when going to an actual in real life event, and they ask you to sign in. Log in is for websites. – user39400 Jan 5 '14 at 21:09
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    +1 for pointing out that "Sign up" and "Sign in" are visually very close. I find that combo confusing and for that reason avoid using if possible – User Feb 3 '14 at 22:46
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    +1 for "Sign up" and "Log in" as they are further apart visually and faster to scan than using "Sign up" and "Sign in". – Shishir Gupta Jul 31 '14 at 13:21
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As a non-native english speaker, I always have found sign in & sign up, VERY confusing, I always click the wrong button. You should avoid Sign up. Login and Logout are not so much confusing

  • 2
    Except that both login and logout are nouns and signifies procedures, whereas we are talking about an action; thus, verb phrases. In your case, would be to log in and to log out. Interestingly, we log on / off a computer or network. However, Microsoft were the first who introduced log in and log out. My guess is that some UX designer were confused with the verb phrases lock in, lock out, lock on, lock off, and lock up. – Frederik Krautwald Oct 28 '16 at 4:33

protected by Community Mar 11 '14 at 18:53

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