I have a normal web-app (website) with login and logout links. The logout link only appears if the user is logged-in and vice versa.

However, there is nothing preventing the user from manually typing the login URL in the browser (or clicking on a bookmark).

Which is the better user experience in this case?

  1. User is taken to the login page as requested (even though he is already logged in)
  2. User is redirected to the post-login or homepage like how Gmail does.
  • 2
    Another common use case where someone might get to the sign in page even though they are already logged in is someone bookmarks the sign in page and uses that to get to the site. It is my opinion that they should be directed to the post-sign in page. Sep 25 '12 at 21:26

The most expected result would be to duplicate the default redirect that would happen in typical login. For example, if there is a "Login" link in the global nav, the expected result logging in would be to authenticate the user, then land the user back to the page from which the login initiated. If there is a section of the site that is gated by login, and the user links directly to a protected page, then login would be expected to redirect to the protected page that the user had linked to initially while still anonymous. In the case you are asking about, (2) is the best experience if the user is not otherwise navigating to some known page.

I am working right now with a system that does allow you to return again to the login screen even if you are already authenticated. It is terribly confusing. Users should never see the login screen if they are already authenticated.

  • Thanks, that's completely coherent with my thinking too.
    – adarshr
    Sep 25 '12 at 15:44
  • Great answer, @Steve! You beat me to this answer :-) Sep 25 '12 at 16:00
  • +1 Interesting use case I just found myself in: having two tabs open to the same site; logged in on one; then used "log in" link on second. Instead of taking me to the default post-log-in page, it took me to my account... Pretty neat distinction in recognizing difference between already logged in entering the site and already logged in when already in a session. Sep 26 '12 at 9:41

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