As part of a registration form I am building I need to, at some point, differentiate between whether the user is a 'student' or 'professor'. I've seen this handled in two different ways and was curious if anyone had any thoughts or research on the benefits/downsides of each way.

Two separate sign-up buttons on homepage

www.lore.com and www.piazza.com

One sign-up button, then two choices as part of the sign-up flow


The first method is one less click for the user but can potentially make the homepage more confusing with two call to action buttons next to each other. Also, with the first method, you couldn't just have a single 'sign-up' button elsewhere on the site, you'd have to provide two 'sign-up' options at all times.

4 Answers 4


Don't make people think before they have made a commitment to sign up (by selecting a sign up button). Every time you make a potential customer think you create an opportunity for then to choose not to and leave your site. It's also much harder to later optimise your page when you have two sign up buttons, as suddenly there are more variables to consider.

Go for one sign up button and then give an option early on in the sign up process for them to choose what they are signing up for.

As a side note, have you considered the case where they are both a professor and a student? I know many professors and lecturers that are always studying.

  • Agreed, the less they have to think about while making the commitment the better. A radio button on the form itself would be fine I think. This way it's a part of the normal flow of the registration process rather than a part of the 'do i want to register' process. Jan 15, 2013 at 22:19

As long as you are not capturing different attributes for different types of users, don't give a different sign-up links. If the attributes you are capturing are almost same, then no need to give two sign-up links.

A fitting example of different sign-ups for different type of users would be www.iwriter.com where you can sign-up as publisher and advertiser.

  • This seems sensible. Ultimately both routes are getting the user to register with our site, just a slight variation in data collection between the two. It's not two completely different actions like buying or selling on eBay. Jan 14, 2013 at 11:33
  • @DanChristian: eBay doesn't make you choose when you sign up. You can be both... Jan 14, 2013 at 15:32
  • @MarjanVenema That wasn't the point. Unnecessary comment. Jan 14, 2013 at 17:56
  • @DanChristian: Ah, okay. eBay, buying and selling in one sentence in the context of a sign up question, somehow spells "sign up as" to me... ;) Jan 14, 2013 at 19:47
  • @DanChristian - I think Marjan's point is valid. Even if the information needed is different, the first piece of information you can ask for is "Are you a student or professor?" Besides that, I'm pretty sure both professors and students have things like names and e-mail addresses, so it could probably be worked in as an item on the first page that would do it transparently. Jan 14, 2013 at 20:57

I would say that it depends on what you are doing with the distinction.

For example - if the product that the "professor" gets is substantially the same that the product and benefits that the "student", and you're asking for the same information on both, then I'd stick to a single sign up button.

If the professor is getting a different kind of product, or if the value that the professor gets is from the same product is very different from that of the student, then separate sign up forms may be more effective.

For example you could trickle copy highlighting the value that the professor gets on the professor sign up page. Ditto for the student.

Depending on the value of the different customer types to the business it might also be of value to have separate sign up forms so you can track and optimise the conversion funnel for each group separately.


You could use paypal method its similar to the lore.com. As well Lore does it well big images big buttons there is almost 0% of mistake piazza is a bit harder, especially for children.

Another way you could incorporate this selection in to the form for example you can have a radio button as a 1st question in the sign up form "Student" or "Teacher" and then display relevant form.

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