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Why would a web site hide the log out button?

Everyone knows Gmail. Its so easy to use. Of course. But just like Facebook wall, gmail inbox also almost hides the log out button. I dont ususally log out, as my access is always from my own devices. But once other day, i had to access my mail from my friends laptop and i wanted to log out from gmail and it gave me a worst time trying to find where the log out button is. I am really surprised that google would place the log out screen so much invisible. Is google forgetting the Visibility Heuristics here ? I am pretty sure, facebook forgot that a long time ago. What do you all think ? What is the real way to address this problem ?


2 Answers 2


Google and Facebook, like most other websites, don't want you to log out. Nobody there forgot the visibility heuristic. In fact, they put it to very good use, since they know that it will be harder for you to find something you're not seeing.

In the case of Google their reluctance to let you log out is much stronger than with most other websites. Other websites just want you to keep using them, but for google there are two other considerations. The less important one is that people are using different Google products and you have a single sign-on across the different products. You may be done with GMail but you're still using GDocs, and if you log out of the one, you're also disconnected from the other. This connection isn't self-evident and people might not want to be logged out of the other services, they may take it as an unpleasant surprise. So this far it goes to benefit the user.

But the more important consideration is that as long as you're signed in, it's easier for them to track you across the different non-google sites you're using, to collect information about you and to display better targeted ads. It could be said than whenever you sign out, they lose money.

  • In yahoo messenger, you might have noticed that there is an option for the user to either log out completly or log out from online or mobile messenger only. Why cant google adopt that approach. May be when the user logs out from any of the services, the message can be thrown asking user to "Log out from here" or log out from all google services ? I think there is definite value in respecting all user requirements. Commented Aug 25, 2012 at 10:01

Well Facebook and Google aside, even stack exchange hides the Logout Button.

They just assume that you will be picking up email and social network, etc from your own devices and never need to logout, just like you mentioned with ur gmail; Right? So they cut you out from the extra hassle of logging in every time around, and try to give you a better experience.

Most of what you asked , or need to be answered is here

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